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Copyright, 1894, by WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS. 

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Elcctrotypcd by J. A. Ho~juells & Co . Jefferson, Ohio. 


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I CONFESS that -with all my curiosity to meet an 
Altrurian, I was in no hospitable mood towards the 
traveler when he finally presented himself, pursuant 
to the letter of advice sent me by the friend who in 
troduced him. It would be easy enough to take care 
of him in the hotel ; I had merely to engage a room 
for him, and have the clerk tell him his money was 
not good if he tried to pay for anything. But I had 
swung fairly into my story ; its people were about me 
all the time ; I dwelt amidst its events and places, and 
I did not see how I could welcome my guest among 
them, or abandon them for him. Still, when he actu 
ally arrived, and I took his hand as he stepped from 
the train, I found it less difficult to say that I was glad 
to see him than I expected. In fact, I was glad, for I 
could not look upon his face without feeling a glow of 


kindness for him. I had not the least trouble in iden 
tifying him, he was so unlike all the Americans who 
dismounted from the train with him, and who all 
looked hot, worried and anxious. ~ He was a man no 
longer young, but in what we call the heyday of life, 
when our own people are so absorbed in making pro 
vision for the future that they may be said not to live 
in the present at all. This Altrurian s whole counte 
nance, and especially his quiet, gentle eyes, expressed 
a vast contemporaneity, with bounds of leisure re 
moved to the end of time ; or, at least, this was the 
effect of something in them which I am obliged to re 
port in rather fantastic terms. He was above the 
middle height and he carried himself vigorously. His 
face was sun-burnt, or sea-burnt, where it was not 
bearded ; and although I knew from my friend s letter 
that he was a man of learning, and distinction in his 
own country, I should never have supposed him a per 
son of scholarly life, he was so far from sicklied over 
with anything like the pale cast of thought. When 
he took the hand I offered him in my half-hearted 
welcome he gave it a grasp that decided me to confine 
our daily greetings to something much less muscular. 
" Let me have your bag," I said, as we do when we 


meet people at the train, and lie instantly bestowed a 
rather heavy valise upon me, with a smile in his be 
nignant eyes, as if it had been the greatest favor. 
" Have you got any checks ? " I asked. 

" Yes," he said, in very good English, but with an 
accent new to me : "I bought two." He gave them 
to me and I passed them to our hotel porter, who was 
waiting there with the baggage cart. Then I proposed 
that we should walk across the meadow to the house, 
which is a quarter of a mile or so from the station. 
We started, but lie stopped suddenly and looked back 
over his shoulder. " Oh, you needn t be troubled 
about your trunks," I said. " The porter will get them 
to the house all right. They ll be in your room by 
the time we get there." 

" But he s putting them into the \vagon himself," 
said the Altrurian. 

" Yes ; he always does that. He s a strong young 
fellow. He ll manage it. You needn t " I could 
not finish saying he need not mind the porter ; he 
was rushing back to the station, and I had the mor 
tification of seeing him take an end of each trunk 
and help the porter toss it into the wagon ; some 
lighter pieces he put in himself, and he did not stop 


till all the baggage the train had left was disposed of. 

I stood holding his valise, unable to put it down in 
my embarrassment at this eccentric performance, 
which had been evident not to me alone, but to all the 
people who arrived by the train, and all their friends 
who came from the hotel to meet them. A number 
of these passed me on the tally-ho coach ; and a lady, 
who had got her husband with her for over Sunday, 
and was in very good spirits, called gayly down to me : 
" Your friend seems fond of exercise ! " 

" Yes," I answered dryly ; the sparkling repartee 
which ought to have come to my help failed to show 
up. But it was impossible to be vexed with the Al- 
trurian when he returned to me, unruffled by his bout 
with the baggage, and serenely smiling. 

" Do you know," he said, " I fancied that good fel 
low was ashamed of my helping him. I hope it didn t 
seem a reflection upon him in any way before your 
people ? I ought to have thought of that." 

" I guess we can make it right with him. I dare 
say he felt more surprised than disgraced. But we" 
must make haste a little now ; your train was half an 
hour late, and we shall not stand so good a chance for 
supper if we are not there pretty promptly." 


" No ? " said the Altrurian. " Why ? " 

"Well," I said, with evasive lightness, "first come, 
first served, you know. That s human nature." 

"Is it ? " he returned, and he looked at me as one 
does who suspects another of joking. 

" Well, isn t it ?" I retorted ; but I hurried to add : 
" Besides, I want to have time after supper to show 
you a bit of our landscape. I think you ll enjoy it." 
I knew he had arrived in Boston that morning by 
steamer, and I now thought it high time to ask him : 
" Well, what do you think of America, anyway ? " I 
ought really to have asked him this the moment he 
stepped from the train. 

" Oh," he said, " I m intensely interested," and I 
perceived that he spoke with a certain reservation. 
"As the most advanced country of its time, I ve always 
been very curious to see it." 

The last sentence raised my dashed spirits again, 
and I said confidently : "You must find our system 
of baggage checks delightful." I said this because 
it is is one of the first things we brag of to for 
eigners, and I had the habit of it. " By the way," 
I ventured to add, " I suppose you meant to say you 
brought two checks when I asked you for them at 


the train just now ? But you really said you bought 

" Yes," the Altrurian replied, " I gave half a dollar 
apiece for them at the station in Boston. I saw other 
people doing it," he explained, noting my surprise. 
" Isn t it the custom ? " 

" I m happy to say it isn t yet, on most of our roads. 
They were tipping the baggage man, to make sure 
that he checked their baggage in time, and put it on 
the train. I had to do that myself when I came up ; 
otherwise it might have got along here sometime next 
day. But the system is perfect." 

" The poor man looked quite worn out," said the 
Altrurian, " and I am glad I gave him something. He 
seemed to have several hundred pieces of baggage to 
look after, and he wasn t embarassed like your porter 
by my helping him put my trunks into the car. May 
I confess that the meanness of the station, its insuffi 
cient facilities, its shabby waiting rooms, and its whole 
crowded and confused appearance gave me rather a 
bad impression ? " 

" I know," I had to own, " it s shameful ; but you 
wouldn t have found another" station in the city so 


"All, then," said the Altrurian, " I suppose this par 
ticular road is too poor to employ more baggage men, 
or build new stations ; they seemed rather shabby all 
the way up." 

" Well, no," I was obliged to confess, " it s one of 
the richest roads in the country. The stock stands at 
about 180. But I m really afraid we shall be late to 
supper, if we don t get on," I broke off ; though I was 
not altogether sorry to arrive after the porter had dis 
posed of the baggage. I dreaded another display of 
active sympathy on the part of my strange companion; 
I have often felt sorry myself for the porters of hotels, 
but I have never thought of offering to help them 
handle the heavy trunks that they manage. 

The Altrurian was delighted with the hotel ; and in 
fact it did look extremely pretty with its branching 
piazzas full of well-dressed people, and its green lawns 
where the children were playing. I led the way to 
the room which I had taken for him next my own ; it 
was simply furnished, but it was sweet with matting, 
fresh linen and pure white-washed walls. I flung open 
the window blinds and let him get a glimpse of the 
mountains purpling under the sunset, the lake beneath, 
and the deeply foliaged shores. 


" Glorious ! Glorious ! " he sighed. 

" Yes," I modestly assented. " We think that s 
rather fine." He stood tranced before the window, 
and I thought I had better say, " Well, now I can t 
give you much time to get the dust of travel off ; the 
dining room doors close at eight, and we must hurry 

" I ll be with you in a moment," he said, pulling off 
his coat. 

I waited impatiently at the foot of the stairs, avoid 
ing the question I met on tli3 lips and in the eyes of 
my acquaintance. The fame of my friend s behavior 
at the station must have spread through the whole 
place ; and everybody wished to know who he was. I 
answered simply he was a traveller from Altruria ; and 
in some cases I went farther and explained that the 
Altrurians were peculiar. 

In much less time than it seemed my friend found 
me ; and then I had a little compensation for my suf 
fering in his behalf. I could see that, whatever peo 
ple said of him, they felt the same mysterious liking 
at sight of him that I had felt. He had made a little 
change in his dress, and I perceived that the women 
thought him not only good-looking, but well-dressed. 


They followed him with their eyes as we went into 
the dining room, and I was rather proud of being with 
him, as if I somehow shared the credit of his clothes 
and good looks. The Altrurian himself seemed most 
struck with the head waiter, who showed us to our 
places, and while we were waiting for our supper I 
found a chance to explain that he was a divinity stu 
dent from one of the fresh-water colleges, and was 
serving here during his summer vacation. This seemed 
to interest my friend so much that I went on to tell 
him that many of the waitresses, whom he saw stand 
ing there subject to the order of the guests, were 
country school mistresses in the winter. 

"Ah, that is as it should be," he said ; " that is the 
kind of thing I expected to meet with in America." 

" Yes," I responded, in my flattered national vanity, 
" if America means anything at all it means the honor 
of work and the recognition of personal worth every 
where. I hope you are going to make a long stay 
with us. We like to have travellers visit us who can 
interpret the spirit of our institutions as well as read 
their letter. As a rule, Europeans never quite get 
our point of view. Now a great many of these wait 
resses are ladies, ift the true sense of the word: self- 


respectful, intelligent, refined, and fit to grace 

I was interrupted by the noise my friend made in 
suddenly pushing back his chair and getting to his 
feet. " What s the matter ? " I asked. " You re not 
ill, I hope?" 

But he did not hear me. He had run half down 
the dining hall toward the slender young girl who was 
bringing us our supper. I had ordered rather gener 
ously, for my friend had owned to a good appetite, 
and I was hungry myself with waiting for him, so 
that the tray the girl carried was piled up with heavy 
dishes. To my dismay I saw, rather than heard at 
that distance, the Altrurian enter into a polite contro 
versy with her, and then, as if overcoming all her 
scruples by sheer strength of will, possess himself of 
the tray and make off with it toward our table. The 
poor child followed him, blushing to her hair ; the 
head waiter stood looking helplessly on ; the guests, 
who at that late hour were fortunately few, were sim 
ply aghast at the scandal ; the Altrurian alone seemed 
to think his conduct the most natural thing in the 
world. He put the tray on the side table near us, and 
in spite of our waitress s protests insisted upon arrang 
ing the little bird-Juiili dishes before our plates. Then 


at last lie sat down, and the girl, flushed and tremu 
lous, left the room, as I could not help suspecting, to 
have a good cry in the kitchen: She did not come 
back, and the head waiter, who was perhaps afraid to 
send another in her place, looked after our few wants 
himself. He kept a sharp eye on my friend, as if he 
were not quite sure he was safe, but the Altrurian re 
sumed the conversation with all that lightness of spir 
its which I noticed in him after he helped the porter 
with the baggage. I did not think it the moment to 
take him to task for what he had just done ; I was 
not even sure that it was the part of a host to do so at 
all, and between the one doubt and the other I left 
the burden of the talk to him. 

" What a charming young creature ! " he began. 
" I never saw anything prettier than the way she had 
of refusing my help, absolutely without coquetry or 
affectation of any kind. She is, as you said, a perfect 
lady, and she graces her work, as I am sure she would 
grace any exigency of life. She quite realizes my 
ideal of an American girl, and I see now what the 
spirit of your country must be from such an expression 
of it." I wished to tell him that while a country 
school teacher who waits at table in a summer hotel is 


very much to be respected in her sphere, she is not 
regarded with that high honor which some other wo 
men command among us ; but I did not find this very 
easy, after what I had said of our esteem for labor ; 
and while I was thinking how I could hedge, my friend 
went on. " I liked England greatly, and I liked 
the English, but I could not like the theory of their 
civilization, or the aristocratic structure of their so 
ciety. It seemed to me iniquitous, for we believe 
that inequality and iniquity are the same in the last 

At this I found myself able to say : " Yes, there is 
something terrible, something shocking, in the frank 
brutality with which Englishmen affirm the essential 
inequality of men. The affirmation of the essential 
equality of men was the first point of departure with 
us, when we separated from them." 

" I know," said the Altrurian. " How grandly it 
is expressed in your glorious Declaration." 

" Ah, you have read our Declaration of Indepen 
dence then?" 

" Every Altrurian has read that," answered my 

" Well," I went on smoothly, and I hoped to ren- 


der what I was going to say the means of enlightening 
him without offense concerning the little mistake he 
he had just made with the waitress ; " of course we 
don t take that in its closest literality." 

" I don t understand you," he said. 

" Why, you know it was rather the political than 
jthe social traditions of England that we broke with, 
in the revolution." 

" How is that ? he returned. " Didn t you break 
with monarchy and nobility, and ranks and classes ? " 

" Yes, we broke with all those things." 

" But I found them a part of the social as well as 
the political structure in England. You have no 
kings or nobles here. Have you any ranks or classes ? " 

" Well, not exactly in the English sense. Our ranks 
and classes, such as we have, are what I may call vol 

" Oh, I understand. I suppose that from time to 
time certain ones among you feel the need of serving, 
and ask leave of the commonwealth to subordinate 
themselves to the rest of the state, and perform all the 
lowlier offices in it. Such persons must be held in 
peculiar honor. Is it something like that ? " 

" Well, no, I can t say it s quite like that. In fact, 


I think I d better let you trust to your own observa 
tion of our life." 

" But I m sure," said the Altrurian, with a simplic 
ity so fine that it was a long time before I could believe 
it quite real, " that I shall approach it so much more 
intelligently with a little instruction from you. You 
say that your social divisions are voluntary. But do 
I understand that those who serve among you do not 
wish to do so ? " 

"Well, I don t suppose they would serve if they 
cculd help it," I replied. 

" Surely," said the Altrurian with a look of horror, 
* you don t mean that they arc slaves." 

" Oh, no ! Oh, no ! " I said ; " the War put an 
end to that. We arc all free, now, black and 

" But if they do not wish to serve, and arc not held 
in peculiar honor for serving " 

* I sec that my word voluntary has misled you," 
J put in. " It isn t the word exactly. The divisions 
among us are rather a process of natural selection. 
You will sec, as you get better acquainted with the 
woi kings of our institutions, that there arc no arbitrary 
distinctions here, but the fitness of the work for the 


man and the man for the work determines the social 
rank that each one holds." 

" Ah, that is fine ! " cried the Altrurian with a glow 
of enthusiasm. " Then I suppose that these intelli 
gent young people who teach school in winter and 
serve at table in the summer are in a sort of pro 
visional state, waiting for the process of natural selec 
tion to determine whether they shall finally be teachers 
or waiters." 

" Yes, it might be stated in some such terms," I 
assented, though I was not altogether easy in my 
mind. It seemed to me that I was not quite candid 
with this most candid spirit. I added, " You know 
we are a sort of fatalists here in America. We are 
great believers in the doctrine that it will all come out 
right in the end." 

" Ah, I don t wonder at that," said the Altrurian, 
" if the process of natural selection works so perfectly 
among you as you say. But I am afraid I don t un 
derstand this matter of your domestic service yet. I 
believe you said that all honest work is honored in 
America. Then no social slight attaches to service, I 
suppose ? " 

" Well, I can t say that, exactly. The fact is, a cer- 


tain social slight does attach to service, and that is 
one reason why I don t quite like to have students 
wait at table. It won t be pleasant for them to re 
member it in after life, and it won t be pleasant for 
their children to remember it." 

" Then the slight would descend ? " 

" I think it would. One wouldn t like to think 
one s father or mother had been at service." 

The Altrurian said nothing for a moment. Then 
he remarked, " So it seems that while all honest work 
is honored among you, there are some kinds of honest 
work that are not honored so much as others." 

" Yes." 

" Why ? " 

" Because some occupations are more degrading 
than others." 

" But why ? " he persisted, as I thought a little un 

" Really," I said, " I think I must leave you to im 

" I am afraid I can t," he said sadly. " Then, if 
domestic service is degrading in your eyes, and people 
are not willingly servants among you, may I ask why 
any are servants ? " 


" It is a question of bread and butter. They are 
obliged to be." 

" That is, they are forced to do work that is hateful 
and disgraceful to them because they cannot live 
without ? " 

" Excuse me," I said, not at all liking this sort of 
pursuit, and feeling it fair to turn even upon a guest 
who kept it up. " Isn t it so with you in Altruria? " 

" It was so once," he admitted, " but not now. In 
fact, it is like a waking dream to find oneself in the 
presence of conditions here that we outlived so long 

There was an unconscious superiority in this speech 
that nettled me, and stung me to retort : " We do not 
expect to outlive them. We regard them as final, and 
as indestructibly based in human nature itself." 

" All," said the Altrurian with a delicate and caress 
ing courtesy, " have I said something offensive ? " 

" Not at all," I hastened to answer. " It is not 
surprising that you do not get our point of view ex 
actly. You will, by and by, and then, I think, you 
will see that it is the true one. We have found that 
the logic of our convictions could not be applied to 
the problem of domestic service. It is everywhere a 


very curious and perplexing problem. The simple old 
solution of the problem was to own your servants ; 
but we found that this was not consistent with the 
spirit of our free institutions. As soon as it was 
abandoned the anomaly began. We had outlived the 
primitive period when the housekeeper worked with 
her domestics and they were her help, and were called 
so ; and we had begun to have servants to do all the 
household work, and to call them so. This state of 
things never seemed right to some of our purest and 
best people. They fancied, as you seem to have done, 
that to compel people through their necessities to do 
your hateful drudgery, and to wound and shame them 
with a name which every American instinctively re 
sents, was neither republican nor Christian. Some of 
our thinkers tried to mend matters by making their 
domestics a part of their families ; and in the life of 
Emerson you ll find an amusing account of his attempt 
to have his servant eat at the same table with himself 
and his wife. It wouldn t work. He and his wife 
could stand it, but the servant couldn t." 

I paused, for this was where the laugh ought to 
have come in. The Altrurian did not laugh, lie merely 
asked : " Why ? " 


" Well, because the servant knew, if they didn t, 
that they were a whole world apart in their traditions, 
and were no more fit to associate than New Englanders 
and New Zealandcrs. In the mere matter of educa 
tion " 

"But I thought you said that these young girls 
who wait at table here were teachers." 

" Oh, I beg your pardon ; I ought to have ex 
plained. By this time it had become impossible, as 
it now is, to get American girls to take service except 
on some such unusual terms as we have in a summer 
hotel ; and the domestics were already ignorant for 
eigners, fit for nothing else. In such a place as this 
it isn t so bad. It is more as if the girls worked in a 
shop or a factory. They command their own time, in 
a measure ; their hours are tolerably fixed, and they 
have each other s society. In a private family they 
would be subject to order at all times, and they would 
have no social life. They would be in the family, 
but not of it. American girls understand this, and 
so they won t go out to service in the usual way. 
Even in a summer hotel the relation has its odious 
aspects. The system of giving fees seems to me de 
grading to those who have to take them. To offer a 


student or a teacher a dollar for personal service it 
isn t right, or I can t make it so. In fact, the whole 
thing is rather anomalous with us. The best that 
you can say of it is that it works, and we don t know 
what else to do." 

"But I don t see yet," said the Altrurian, " just 
why domestic service isdegradin^ m a country where 
all kinds of work arc honored. 

" Well, my dear fellow, 1 nave done my best to 
explain. As I intimated before, we distinguish ; and 
in the different kinds of labor we distinguish against 
domestic service. I dare say it is partly because of 
the loss of independence which it involves. People 
naturally despise a dependent." 

"Why?" asked the Altrurian, with that innocence 
of his which I was beginning to find rather trying. 

"Why? 11 I retorted. "Because it implies weak 

"And is weakness considered despicable among 
you ? " he pursued. 

" In every community it is despised practically, ]f 
not theoretically," I tried to explain. "The great 
thing that America has done is to offer the race an 
opportunity : the opportunity for any man to rise 


above the rest, and to take the highest place, if he is 
able." I had always been proud of this fact, and I 
thought I had put it very well, but the Altrurian did 
not seem much impressed by it. 

He said : "I do not see how it differs from any 
country of the past in that. But perhaps you mean 
that to rise carries with it an obligation to those 
below. * If any is first Among you, let him be your 
Servant. Is it something like that?" 

" Well, it is not quite like that," I answered, re 
membering how very little our self-made men as a 
class had done for others. " Everyone is expected to 
-look out for himself here. I fancy that there would 
be very little rising if men were expected to rise for 
the sake of others, in America. How is it with you 
in Altruria? " I demanded, hoping to get out of a cer 
tain discomfort I felt, in that way. " Do your risen 
men generally devote themselves to the good of the 
community after they get to the top ? " 

" There is no rising among us," he said, with what 
seemed a perception of the harsh spirit of my ques 
tion ; and lie paused a moment before he asked in his 
turn, " How do men rise among you ? " 

" That would be rather a long story," I replied. 


" But putting it in the rough, I should say that they 
rose by their talents, their shrewdness, their ability 
to seize an advantage and turn it to their own 

" And is that considered noble ? " 

" It is considered smart. It is considered at the 
worst far better than a dead level of equality. Are 
all men equal in Altruria? Are they all alike gifted 
or beautiful, or short or tall ? " 

" No, they are only equal in duties and in rights. 
But, as you said just now, that is a very long story. 
Are they equal in nothing here ?" 

" They are equal in opportunities." 

" Ah ! " breathed the Altrurian, " I am glad to hear 

I began to feel a little uneasy, and I was not quite 
sure that this last assertion of mine would hold water. 
Everybody but ourselves had now left the dining 
room, and I saw the head waiter eying us impatiently. 
I pushed back my chair and said, " I m sorry to seem 
to hurry you, but I should like to show you a very 
pretty sunset effect we have here before it is too 
dark. When we get back, I want to introduce you 
to a few of my friends. Of course, I needn t tell you 


that there is a good deal of curiosity about you, espe 
cially among the ladies." 

" Yes, I found that the case in England, largely. 
It was the women who cared most to meet me. I 
understand that in America society is managed even 
more by women than it is in England." 

" It s entirely in their hands," I said, with the 
satisfaction we all feel in the fact. " We have no 
other leisure class. The richest men among us arc 
generally hard workers ; devotion to business is the 
rule ; but as soon as a man reaches the point where 
he can afford to pay for domestic service, his wife and 
daughters expect to be released from it to the culti 
vation of their minds and the enjoyment of social 
pleasures. It s quite right". That is what makes 
them so delightful to foreigners. You must have 
heard their praises chanted in England. The English 
find our men rather stupid, I believe ; but they think 
our women arc charming." 

" Yes, I was told that the wives of their nobility 
were sometimes Americans," said the Altrurian. 
" The English think that you regard such marriages 
as a great honor, and that they are very gratifying to 
your national pride." 


" Well, I suppose that is so in a measure," I con 
fessed. " I imagine that it will not be long before 
the English aristocracy derives as largely from Amer 
ican millionaires as from kings mistresses. Not," I 
added virtuously, " that we approve of aristocracy." 

"No, I understand that," said the Altrurian. " I 
shall hope to get your point of view in this matter 
more distinctly by and by. As yet, I m a little vague 
about it." 

" I think I can gradually make it clear to you," I 


WE left the hotel, and I began to walk my friend 
across the meadow toward the lake. I wished him 
to see the reflection of the afterglow in its still waters, 
with the noble lines of the mountain range that 
glassed itself there ; the effect is one of the greatest 
charms of that lovely region, the sojourn of the sweet 
est summer in the world, and I am always impatient 
to show it to strangers. 

We climbed the meadow wall and passed through 
a stretch of woods, to a path leading down to the 
shore, and as we loitered along in the tender gloom 
of the forest, the music of the hermit-thrushes rang 
all round us, like crystal bells, like silver flutes, like 
the drip of fountains, like the choiring of still-eyed 
cherubim. We stopped from time to time and list 
ened, while the shy birds sang unseen in their covert 
of shadows ; but we did not speak till we emerged 
from the trees and suddenly stood upon the naked 
knoll overlooking the lake. 


Then I explained, " The woods used to come down 
to the shore here, and we had their mystery and 
music to the water s edge ; but last winter the owner 
cut the timber off. It looks rather ragged now." I 
had to recognize the fact, for I saw the Altrurian 
staring about him over the clearing, in a kind of hor 
ror. It was a squalid ruin, a graceless desolation, 
which not even the pitying twilight could soften. 
The stumps showed their hideous mutilation every 
where ; the brush had been burned, and the fires had 
scorched and blackened the lean soil of the hill slope, 
and blasted it with sterility. A few weak saplings, 
withered by the flames, drooped and straggled about ; 
it would be a century before the forces of nature could 
repair the waste. 

" You say the owner did this," said the Altruiian. 
" Who is the owner ? " 

" Well, it does .-^em too bad," I answered eva 
sively. " There has been a good deal of feeling about 
it. The neighbors tried to buy him off before he be 
gan the destruction, for they knew the value of the 
woods as an attraction to summer-boarders ; the city 
cottagers, of course, wanted to save them, and to 
gether they offered for the land pretty nearly as much 


as the limber was worth. But lie had got it into his 
head that the land here by the lake would sell for 
building lots if it was cleared, and he could make 
money on that as well as on the trees ; and so they 
had to go. Of course, one might say that he was de 
ficient in public spirit, but I don t blame him, alto 

" No," the Altrurian assented, somewhat to my 
surprise, I confess. 

I resumed, " There was no one else to look after his 
interests, and it was not only his right but his duty 
to get the most he could for himself and his own, ac 
cording to his best light. That is what I tell people 
when they fall foul of him for his want of public 

" The trouble seems to be, then, in the system that 
obliges each man to be the guardian of his own inter 
ests. Is that what you blame ? " 

" No, I consider it a very pWfcct system. It is 
based upon individuality, and we believe that indi 
viduality is the principle that differences civilized 
men from savages, from the lower animals, and makes 
us a nation instead of a tribe or a herd. There isn t 
one of us, no matter how much he censured this 


man s want of public spirit, but would resent the 
slightest interference with his property rights. The 
woods were his ; lie had the right to do what he 
pleased with his own." 

" Do I understand you that, in America, a man 
may do what is wrong with his own ? " 

" He may do anything with his own." 

" To the injury of others ? " 

" Well, not in person or property. But he may 
hurt them in taste and sentiment as much as he likes. 
Can t a man do what lie pleases with his own in Al- 
truria ? " 

" No, he can only do right with his own." 

" And if he tries to do wrong, or what the commu 
nity thinks is wrong ? " 

" Then the community takes his own from him." 
Before I could think of anything to say to this he 
went on : " But I wish you would explain to me why 
it was left to this man s neighbors to try and get 
him to sell his portion of the landscape ? " 

"Why, bless my soul!" I exclaimed, "who else 
was there ^ You wouldn t have expected to take up 
a collection among the summer-boarders ? " 

" That wouldn t have been so unreasonable ; but I 


didn t mean that. Was there no provision for such 
an exigency in your laws ? Wasn t the state empow 
ered to buy him off at the full value of his timber 
arid his land ? " 

" Certainly not," I replied. " That would be rank 

It began to get dark, and I suggested that we had 
better be going back to the hotel. The talk seemed 
already to have taken us away from all pleasure in 
the prospect ; I said, as we found our way through 
the rich, balsam-scented twilight of the woods, where 
one joy-haunted thrush was still singing, " You know 
that in America the law is careful not to meddle with 
a man s private affairs, and we don t attempt to legis 
late personal virtue." 

" But marriage," he said, " surely you have the in 
stitution of marriage ? " 

I was really annoyed at this. I returned sarcas 
tically, " Yes, I am glad to say that there we can 
meet your expectation ; we have marriage, not only 
consecrated by the church, but established and de 
fended by the state. What has that to do with the 
question ? " 

" And you consider marriage," he pursued, " the 


citadel of morality, the fountain of all that is pure 
and good in your private life, the source of home and 
the image of heaven ? " 

" There are some marriages," I said with a touch 
of our national humor, " that do not quite fill the bill, 
but that is certainly our ideal of marriage. 

" Then why do you say that you have not legis 
lated personal virtue in America ? " he asked. " You 
have laws, I believe, against theft and murder and 
slander and incest and perjury and drunkenness?" 

" Why, certainly." 

" Then it appears to me that you have legislated 
honesty, regard for human life, regard for character, 
abhorence of unnatural vice, good faith and sobriety. 
I was told on the train coming up, by a gentleman 
who was shocked at the sight of a man beating his 
horse, that you even had laws against cruelty to ani 

" Yes, and I am happy to say that they are en 
forced to such a degree that a man cannot kill a cat 
cruelly without being punished for it." The Altru- 
rian did not follow up his advantage, and I resolved 
not to be outdone in magnanimity. " Come, I will 
own that you have the best of me on those points. I 


must say you ve trapped me very neatly, too ; I can 
enjoy a thing of that kind when it s well done, and I 
frankly knock under. But I had in mind something 
altogether different when I spoke. I was thinking of 
those idealists who want to bind us hand and foot, 
and render us the slaves of a state where the most in 
timate relations of life shall be penetrated by legisla 
tion, and the very hearthstone shall be a tablet of 

" Isn t marriage a rather intimate relation of life ? " 
asked the Altrurian. " And I understood that gentle 
man on the train to say that you had laws against 
cruelty to children and societies established to see 
them enforced. You don t consider such laws an in 
vasion of the home, do you, or a violation of its 
immunities ? I imagine," he went on, " that the dif 
ference between your civilization and ours is only 
one of degree, after all, and that America and Altruria 
are really one at heart." 

I thought his compliment a bit hyperbolical, but I 
saw that it was honestly meant, and as we Americans 
are first of all patriots, and vain for our country be 
fore we are vain for ourselves, I was not proof against 
the flattery it conveyed to me civically if not person 


We were now drawing near the hotel, and I felt at 
certain glow of pleasure in its gay effect, on the pretty 
knoll where it stood. In its artless and accidental 
architecture it was not unlike one of our immense 
coastwise steamboats. The twilight had thickened to 
dusk, and the edifice was brilliantly lighted with elec 
trics, story above story, which streamed into the 
gloom around like the lights of saloon and stateroom. 
The corner of wood making into the meadow hid the 
station ; there was no other building in sight ; the 
hotel seemed riding at anchor on the swell of a placid 
sea. I was going to call the Altrurian s attention to 
this fanciful resemblance when I remembered that he 
had not been in our country long enough to have 
seen a Fall River boat, and I made toward the house 
without wasting the comparison upon him. But I 
treasured it up in my own mind, intending some day 
to make a literary use of it. 

The guests were sitting in friendly groups about 
the piazzas or in rows against the walls, the ladies 
with their gossip and the gentlemen with their cigars. 
The night had fallen cool after a hot day, and they all 
had the effect of having cast off care with the burden 
of the week that was past and to be steeping them- 


selves in the innocent and simple enjoyment of the 
hour. They were mostly middle-aged married folk, 
but some were old enough to have sons and daughters 
among the young people who went and came in a 
long, wandering promenade of the piazzas, or wove 
themselves through the waltz past the open windows 
of the great parlor ; the music seemed one with the 
light that streamed far out on the lawn flanking the 
piazzas. Everyone was well dressed and comfortable 
and at peace, and I felt that our hotel was in some 
sort a microcosm of the republic. 

We involuntarily paused, and I heard the Altrurian 
murmur, " Charming, charming ! This is really de 
lightful ! " 

" Yes, isn t it ? " I returned, with a glow of pride. 
" Our hotel here is a type of the summer hotel every 
where ; it s characteristic in not having anything char 
acteristic about it ; and I rather like the notion of the 
people in it being so much like the people in all the 
others that you would feel yourself at home wherever 
you met such a company in such a house. All over 
the country, north and south, wherever you find a 
group of hills or a pleasant bit of water or a stretch 
of coast, you ll find some such refuge as this for our 


weary toilers. We began to discover some time ago 
that it would not do to cut open the goose that laid 
our golden eggs, even if it looked like an eagle, and 
kept on perching on our banners just as if nothing 
had happened. We discovered that, if we continued 
to kill ourselves with hard work, there would be no 
Americans pretty soon." 

The Altrurian laughed. " How delightfully you 
put it ! How quaint ! How picturesque ! Excuse 
me, but I can t help expressing my pleasure in it. 
Our own humor is so very different." 

" Ah, " I said ; " what is your humor like ? " 

" I could hardly tell you, I m afraid ; I ve never 
been much of a humorist myself." 

Again a cold doubt of something ironical in the 
man went through me, but I had no means of verify 
ing it, and so I simply remained silent, waiting for 
him to prompt me if he wished to know anything 
further about our national transformation from bees 
perpetually busy into butterflies occasionally idle. 
" And when you had made that discovery ? " he sug 

" Why, we re nothing if not practical, you know, 
and as soon as we made that discovery we stopped 


killing ourselves and invented the summer resort. 
There are very few of our business or professional 
men, now, who don t take their four or five weeks t 
vacation. Their wives go off early in the summer, 
and if they go to some resort within three or four 
hours of the city, the men leave town Saturday after 
noon and run out, or come up, and spend Sunday 
with their families. For thirty-eight hours or so, a 
hotel like this is a nest of happy homes." 

" That is admirable," said the Altrurian. " You 
arc truly a practical people. The ladies come early 
in the summer, you say?" 

" Yes, sometimes in the beginning of June." 

" What do they come for ? " asked the Altrurian. 

" What for ? Why, for rest ! " I retorted with 
some little temper. 

" But I thought you told me awhile ago that as 
soon as a husband could afford it he relieved his wife 
and daughters from all household work." 

" So he does." 

" Then what do the ladies wish to rest from ? " 

" From care. It is not work alone that kills. 
They are not relieved from household care even when 
they are relieved from household work. There is 


nothing so killing as household care. Besides, the 
sex seems to be born tired. To be sure, there arc 
spme observers of our life who contend that with the 
advance of athletics among our ladies, with boating 
and bathing, and lawn-tennis and mountain climbing 
and freedom from care, and these long summers of 
repose, our women are likely to become as superior to 
the men physically as they now arc intellectually. It 
is all right. We should like to sec it happen. It 
would be part of the national joke ? " 

" Oh, have you a national joke ? " asked the Altru- 
rian. " But, of course ! You have so much humor. 
I wish you could give me some notion of it." 

"Well, it is rather damaging to any joke to explain 
it," I replied, " and your only hope of getting at ours 
is to live into it. One feature of it is the confusion 
of foreigners at the sight of our men s willingness to 
subordinate themselves to our women." 

" Oh, I don t find that very bewildering," said the 
Altrurian. " It seems to me a generous and manly 
trait of the American character. I m proud to say 
that it is one of the points at which your civilization 
and our own touch. There can be no doubt that the 
influence of women in your public affairs must be of 


the greatest advantage to you ; it has been so with us." 

I turned and stared at him, but he remained in 
sensible to my astonishment, perhaps because it was 
now too dark for him to sec it. " Our women have 
no influence in public affairs," I said quietly, after a 

" They haven t ? Is it possible ? But didn t I un 
derstand you to imply just now that your women 
were better educated than your men ? " 

" Well, I suppose that, taking all sorts and condi 
tions among us, the women arc as a rule better 
schooled, if not better educated." 

" Then, apart from the schooling, they are not 
more cultivated ? " 

" In a sense you might say they were. They cer 
tainly go in for a lot of things : art and music, and 
Browning and the drama, and foreign travel and 
psychology, and political economy and heaven knows 
what all. They have more leisure for it ; they have 
all the leisure there is, in fact ; our young men have 
to go into business. I suppose you may say our 
women are more cultivated than our men; yes, I 
think there s no questioning that. They arc the great 
readers among us. We poor devils of authors would 


be badly off if it were not for our women. In fact, 
no author could make a reputation among us without 
them. American literature exists because American 
women appreciate it and love it." 

" But surely your men read books ? " 

"Some of them ; not many, comparatively. You 
will often hear a complacent ass of a husband and 
father say to an author : My wife and daughters 
know your books, but I can t find time for anything 
but the papers nowadays. I skim them over at 
breakfast, or when I m going in to business on the 
train. He isn t the least ashamed to say that he 
reads nothing but the newspapers." 

" Then you think that it would be better for him 
to read books? " 

" Well, in the presence of four or five thousand 
journalists with drawn scalping knives I should not 
like to say so. Besides, modesty forbids." 

" No, but really," the Altrurian persisted, " you 
think that the literature of a book is more carefully 
pondered than the literature of a daily newspaper ? " 

" I suppose even the four or five thousand journal 
ists with drawn scalping knives would hardly deny 


" And it stands to reason, doesn t it, that the 
habitual reader of carefully pondered literature ought 
to be more thoughtful than the readers of literature 
which is not carefully pondered, and which they 
merely skim over on their way to business ? " 

" I believe we began by assuming the superior 
culture of our women, didn t we ? You ll hardly find 
an American that isn t proud of it." 

" Then," said the Altrurian, " if your women are 
generally better schooled than your men, and more 
cultivated and more thoughtful, and are relieved of 
household work in such great measure, and even of 
domestic cares, why have they no part in your public 
affairs ? " 

I laughed, for I thought I had my friend at last. 
" For the best of all possible reasons ; they don t 
want it." 

" Ah, that s no reason," he returned. " Why don t 
they want it ? " 

" Really," I said, out of all patience, " I think I 
must let you ask the ladies themselves," and I turned 
and moved again toward the hotel, but the Altrurian 
gently detained me. 

" Excuse me," he began. 


" No, no," I said : 

* The feast is set, the guests are met, 

May st hear the merry din. 
Come in and see the young people dance ! " 

" Wait," he entreated, " tell me a little more about 
the old people first. This digression about the ladies 
has been very interesting, but I thought you were go 
ing to speak of the men here. Who are they, or 
rather, what are they ? " 

" Why, as I said before, they are all business men 
and professional men ; people who spend their lives 
in studies and counting rooms and offices^ and have 
come up here for a few weeks or a few days of well- 
earned repose. They are of all kinds of occupations : 
they are lawyers and doctors and clergymen and mer 
chants and brokers and brokers. There s hardly any 
calling you won t find represented among them. As 
I was thinking just now, our hotel is a sort of micro 
cosm of the American republic." 

" I am most fortunate in finding you here, where I 
can avail myself of your intelligence in making my 
observations of your life under such advantageous cir 
cumstances. It seems to me that with your help I 
might penetrate the fact of American life, possess my 


self of the mystery of your national joke, without stir 
ring beyond the piazza of your hospitable hotel," said 
my friend. I doubted it, but one does not lightly put 
aside a compliment like that to one s intelligence, and 
I said I should be very happy to be of use to him. 
He thanked me, and said, " Then, to begin with, I 
understand that these gentlemen are here because they 
are all overworked." 

" Of course. You can have no conception of how 
hard our business men and our professional men work. 
I suppose there is nothing like it anywhere else in the 
world. But, as I said before, we are beginning to 
find that we cannot burn the candle at both ends and 
have it last long. So we put one end out for a little 
while every summer. Still, there are frightful wrecks 
of men strewn all along thy,- course of our prosperity, 
wrecks of mind and body. Our insane asylums are 
full of madmen who have broken under the tremen 
dous strain, and every country in Europe abounds in 
our dyspeptics." I was rather proud of this terrible 
fact ; there is no doubt but we Americans are proud 
of overworking ourselves; heaven knows why. 

The Altrurian murmured, "Awful ! Shocking ! " 
but I thought some how he had not really followed me 


very attentively in my celebration of our national vio 
lation of the laws of life and its consequences. " I 
am glad," he went on, " that your business men and 
professional men are beginning to realize the folly and 
wickedness of overwork. Shall I find some of your 
other weary workers here, too ? " 

"What other weary workers?" I asked in turn, for 
I imagined I had gone over pretty much the whole 

" Why," said the Altrurian, " your mechanics and 
day laborers, your iron moulders and glass blowers, 
your miners and farmers, your printers and mill 
operatives, your trainmen and quarry hands. Or do 
they prefer to go to resorts of their own ? " 


IT was not easy to make sure of such innocence as 
prompted this inquiry of my Altrurian friend. The 
doubt whether he could really be in earnest was some 
thing that I had already felt ; and it was destined to 
beset me, as it did now, again and again. My first 
thought was that of course he was trying a bit of 
cheap irony on me, a mixture of the feeble sarcasm 
and false sentiment that makes us smile when we find 
it in the philippics of the industrial agitators. For a 
moment I did not know but I had fallen victim to a 
walking-delegate on his vacation, who was employing 
his summer leisure in going about the country in the 
guise of a traveler from Altruria, and foisting himself 
upon people who would have had nothing to do with 
him in his real character. But in another moment I 
perceived that this was impossible. I could not sup 
pose that the friend who had introduced him to me 
would be capable of seconding so poor a joke, and be- 


sides I could not imagine why a walking-delegate 
should wish to address his clumsy satire to me partic 
ularly. For the present, at least, there was nothing 
for it but to deal with this inquiry as if it were made 
in good faith, and in the pursuit of useful information. 
It struck me as grotesque ; but it would not have been 
decent to treat it as if it were so. I was obliged to 
regard it seriously, and so I decided to shirk it. 

" Well," I said, "that opens up rather a large field, 
which lies somewhat outside of the province of my 
own activities. You know, I am a writer of romantic 
fiction, and my time is so fully occupied in manipu 
lating the destinies of the good old-fashioned hero 
and heroine, and trying always to make them end in 
a happy marriage, that I have hardly had a chance to 
look much into the lives- of agriculturists or artisans; 
and to tell you the truth I don t know what they do 
with .their leisure. I m pretty certain, though, you 
won t meet any of them in this hotel ; they couldn t 
afford it, and I fancy they would find themselves out 
of their element among our guests. We respect them 
thoroughly ; every American does ; and we know that 
the prosperity of the country rests with them ; we 
have a theory that they are politically sovereign, but 


we see very little of them, and we don t associate with 
them. In fact, our cultivated people have so little 
interest in them socially that they don t like to meet 
them, even in fiction ; they prefer refined and polished 
ladies and gentlemen, whom they can have some sym 
pathy with ; and I always go to the upper classes for 
my types. It won t do to suppose, though, that we 
arc indifferent to the working-classes in their place. 
Their condition is being studied a good deal just now, 
and there are several persons here who will be able to 
satisfy your curiosity on the points you have made, I 
think. I will introduce you to them." 

The Altrurian did not try to detain me this time. 
He said he should be very glad indeed to meet my 
friends, and I led the way toward a little group at the 
corner of the piazza. They were men whom I partic 
ularly liked, for one reason or another ; they were 
intelligent and open-minded, and they were thoroughly 
American. One was a banker ; another was a minis 
ter ; there was a lawyer, and there was a doctor ; there 
was a professor of political economy in one of our 
colleges ; and there was a retired manufacturer I do 
not know what he used to manufacture : cotton or 
iron, or something like that. They all rose politely 


as I came up with my Altrurian, and I fancied in 
them a sensation of expectancy created by the rumor 
of his eccentric behavior which must have spread 
through the hotel. But they controlled this if they 
had it, and I could see, as the light fell upon his face 
from a spray of electrics on the nearest pillar, that 
sort of liking kindle in theirs which I had felt myself 
at first sight of him. 

I said, " Gentlemen, I wish to introduce my friend, 
Mr. Homos," and then I presented them severally to 
him by name. AVe all sat down, and I explained : 
" Mr. Homos is from Altruria. He is visiting our 
country for the first time, and is greatly interested in 
the working of our institutions. He has been asking 
me some rather hard questions about certain phases 
of our civilization ; and the fact is that I have launched 
him upon you because I don t feel quite able to cope 
with him." 

They all laughed civilly at this sally of mine, but 
the professor asked, with a sarcasm that I thought I 
hardly merited, " What point in our polity can be ob 
scured to the author of * Glove and Gauntlet and 
1 Airs and Graces ? " 

They all laughed again, not so civilly, I felt, and 


then the banker asked ray friend, "Is it long since 
you left Altruria?" 

" It seems a great while ago," the Altrurian an 
swered, " bnt it is really only a few weeks." 

" You came by way of England, I suppose ? " 

" Yes ; there is no direct line to America," said the 

" That seems rather odd," I ventured, with some 
patriotic grudge. 

" Oh, the English have direct lines everywhere," 
the banker instructed me. 

" The tariff has killed our shipbuilding," said the 
professor. No one took up this firebrand, and the 
professor added, " Your name is Greek, isn t it, Mr. 

" Yes ; we are of one of the early Hellenic fami 
lies," said the Altrurian. 

" And do you think," asked the lawyer, who, like 
most lawyers, was a lover of romance, and was well 
read in legendary lore especially, " that there is any 
reason for supposing that Altruria is identical with 
the fabled Atlantis ? " 

" No, I can t say that I do. We have no traditions 
of a submergence of the continent, and there arc only 


the usual evidences of a glacial epoch which you find 
everywhere, to support such a theory. Besides, our 
civilization is strictly Christian, and dates back to no 
earlier period than that of the first Christian commune 
after Christ. It is a matter of history with us that 
one of these communists, when they were dispersed, 
brought the gospel to our continent ; he was cast away 
on our eastern coast on his way to Britain." 

" Yes, we know that," the minister intervened, 
" but it is perfectly astonishing that an island so large 
as Altruria should have been lost to the knowledge of 
the rest of the world ever since the beginning of our 
era. You would hardly think that there was a space 
of the ocean s surface a mile square which had not 
been traversed by a thousand keels since Columbus 
sailed westward." 

" No, you wouldn t. And I wish," the doctor sug 
gested in his turn, " that Mr. Homos would tell us 
something about his country, instead of asking us 
about ours." 

" Yes," I coincided, " I m sure we should all find it 
a good deal easier. At least I should ; but I brought 
our friend up in the hope that the professor would like 
nothing better than to train a battery of hard facts 


upon a defenseless stranger." Since the professor 
had given me that little stab, I was rather anxious to 
sec how he would handle the desire for information 
in the Altrurian which I had found so prickly. 

This turned the laugh on the professor, and he 
pretended to be as curious about Altruria as the rest, 
and said he would rather hear of it. But the Altru 
rian said : "I hope you will excuse me. Sometime I 
shall be glad to talk of Altruria as long as you like ; 
or if you will come to us, I shall be still happier to 
show you many things that I couldn t make you un 
derstand at a .:.! stance. But I am in America to learn, 
not to teach, and I hope you will have patience with 
my ignorance. I begin to be afraid that it is so great 
as to seem a little incredible. I have fancied in my 
friend here," he went on, with a smile toward me, " a 
suspicion that I was not entirely single in some of the 
inquiries I have made, but that I had some ulterior 
motive, some wish to censure or satirize." 

" Oh, not at all ! " I protested, for it was not polite 
to admit a conjecture so accurate. " We are so well 
satisfied with our condition that we have nothing but 
pity for the darkened mind of the foreigner, though we 
believe in it fully: we are used to the English tourist." 


My friends laughed, and the Altrurian continued : 
" I am very glad to hear it, for I feel myself at a 
peculiar disadvantage among you. I am not only a 
foreigner, but I am so alien to you in all the traditions 
and habitudes that I find it very difficult to get upon 
common ground with you. Of course I know theo 
retically what you are, but to realize it practically is 
another thing. I had read so much about America 
and understood so little that I could not rest without 
coming to see for myself. Some of the apparent con 
tradictions were so colossal" 

" We have everything on a large scale here," said 
the banker, breaking off the ash of his cigar with the 
end of his little finger, "and we rather pride ourselves 
on the size of our inconsistencies, even. I know 
something of the state of things in Altruria, and, to 
be frank with you, I will say that it seems to me pre 
posterous. I should say it was impossible, if it were 
not an accomplished fact ; but I always feel bound to 
recognize the thing done. You have hitched your 
wagon to a star and you have made the star go ; there 
is never any trouble with wagons, but stars are not 
easily broken to harness, and you have managed to 
get yours well in hand. As I said, 1 don t believe in 


you, but I respect you." I thought this charming, 
myself; perhaps because it stated my own mind about 
Altruria so exactly and in terms so just and generous. 

" Pretty good," said the doctor, in a murmur of 
satisfaction, at my ear, " for a bloated bond-holder." 

" Yes," I whispered back, " I wish I had said it. 
What an American way of putting it ! Emerson 
would have liked it himself. After all, he was our 

" He must have thought so from the way we kept 
stoning him," said the doctor, with a soft laugh. 

" Which of our contradictions," asked the banker, 
in the same tone of gentle bonhomie, " has given you 
and our friend pause, just now ? " 

The Altrurian answered after a moment : "I am 
not sure that it is a contradiction, for as yet I have 
not ascertained the facts I was seeking. Our friend 
was telling me of the great change that had taken 
place in regard to work, and the increased leisure 
that your professional people are now allowing them 
selves ; and I was asking him where your workingmen 
spent their leisure." 

He went over the list of those lie had specified, 
and I hung my head in shame and pity ; it really had 


such an effect of mawkish sentimentality. But my 
friends received it in the best possible way. They 
did not laugh ; they heard him out, and then they 
quietly deferred to the banker, who made answer for 
us all : 

" Well, I can be almost as brief as the historian of 
Iceland in his chapter on snakes : those people have 
no leisure to spend." 

" Except when they go out on a strike, " said the 
manufacturer, with a certain grim humor of his own ; 
I never heard anything more dramatic than the ac 
count he once gave of the way he broke up a labor- 
union. " I have seen a good many of them at leisure 

" Yes, " the doctor chimed in, " and in my younger 
days, when I necessarily had a good deal of charity- 
practice, I used to find them at leisure when they 
were * laid off. It always struck me as such a pretty 
euphemism. It seemed to minify the harm of the 
thing so. It seemed to take all the hunger and cold 
and sickness out of the fact. To be simply laid off 
was so different from losing youj* work and having to 
face beggary or starvation ! " 

" Those people, " said the professor, " never put 


anything by. They arc wasteful and improvident, 
almost to a man ; and they learn nothing by experi 
ence, though they know as well as we do that it is 
simply a question of demand and supply, and that the 
day of overproduction is sure to come, when their 
work must stop unless the men that give them work 
arc willing to lose money." 

" And I ve seen them lose it, sometimes, rather 
than shut down, " the manufacturer remarked ; "lose 
it hand over hand, to keep the men at work ; and 
then as soon as the tide turned the men would strike 
for higher wages. You have no idea of the ingrati 
tude of those people." He said this towards the 
minister, as if he did not wish to be thought hard ; 
and in fact he was a very kindly man. 

" Yes, " replied the minister, "that is one of the 
most sinister features of the situation. They seem 
really to regard their employers as their enemies, j 
don t know how it will end." 

" I know how it would end if I had my way, " 
said the professor. " There wouldn t be any labor- 
unions, and there wouldn t be any strikes." 

" That is all very well, " said the lawyer, from that 
judicial mind which I always liked in him, " as far as 


the strikes are concerned, but I don t understand that 
the abolition of the unions would affect the imperson 
al process of laying-off. The law of demand and 
supply I respect as much as any one it s something 
like the constitution ; but all the same I should object 
extremely to have my income stopped by it every 
now and then. I m probably not so wasteful as a 
workingman generally is ; still I haven t laid by 
enough to make it a matter of indifference to me 
whether my income went on or not. Perhaps the 
professor has." The professor did not say, and we 
all took leave to laugh. The lawyer concluded, " I 
don t see how those fellows stand it." 

" They don t, all of them, " said the doctor. " Or 
their wives and children don t. Some of them die." 

" I wonder, " the lawyer pursued, " what has be 
come of the good old American fact that there is 
always work for those who are willing to work ? I 
notice that wherever five thousand men strike in the 
forenoon, there are five thousand men to take their 
places in the afternoon and not men who are turn 
ing their hands to something new, but men who are 
used to doing the very thing the strikers have done. " 

"That is one of the things that teach the futility 


of strikes, " tlic professor made haste to interpose, as 
if he had not quite liked to appear averse to the in 
terests of the workman ; no one likes to do that. 
" If there were anything at all to be hoped from them 
it would be another matter." 

" Yes, but that isn t the point, quite, " said the 
the lawyer. 

" By the way, what is the point?" I asked, with 
my humorous lightness. 

" "Why, I supposed, " said the banker, " it was the 
question how the working-classes amused their elegant 
leisure. But it seems to be almost anything else." 

We all applauded the neat touch, but the Altrurian 
eagerly entreated : " No, no ! never mind that, now. 
That is a matter of comparatively little interest. I 
would so much rather know something about the 
status of the working-man among you." 

" Do you mean his political status ? It s that of 
every other citizen." 

" I don t mean that. I suppose that in America 
you have learned, as we have in Altruria, that equal 
political rights are only means to an end, and as an 
end have no value or reality. I meant the economic 
status of the workingman, and his social status." 


I do not know why we were so long girding up our 
loins to meet this simple question. I myself could 
not have hopefully undertaken to answer it : but the 
others were each in their way men of affairs, and 
practically acquainted with the facts, except perhaps 
the professor ; but he had devoted a great deal of 
thought to them, and ought to have been qualified to 
make some some sort of response. But even he was 
silent ; and I had a vague feeling that they were all 
somehow reluctant to formulate their knowledge, as 
if it were uncomfortable or discreditable. The bank 
er continued to smoke quietly on for a moment ; then 
he suddenly threw his cigar away. 

"I like to free my mind of cant, " he said, with a 
short laugh, "when I can afford it, and I propose to 
cast all sorts of American cant out of it, in answering 
your question. The economic status of the working- 
man among us is essentially the same as that of the 
workingman all over the civilized world. You will 
find plent}?- of people here, especially about election 
time, to tell you differently, but they will not be tell 
ing you the truth, though a great many of them think 
they are. In fact, I suppose most Americans hon 
estly believe because we have a republican form of 


government, and manhood-suffrage, and so on, that 
our economic conditions are peculiar, and that our 
workininnan has a status higher and better than that 

O O 

of the workingman anywhere else. But he has noth 
ing of the kind. His circumstances arc better, and 
provisionally his wages are higher, but it is only a 
question of years or decades when his circumstances 
will be the same and his Ava^cs the same as the 


European workingman s. There is nothing in our 
conditions to prevent this." 

" Yes, I understood from our friend here, " said 
the Altrurian, nodding toward me^ "that you had 
broken only with the political tradition of Europe, in 
your revolution ; and he has explained to me that 
you do not hold all kinds of labor in equal esteem ; 

" What kind of labor did he say we did hold in 
esteem ? " asked the banker. 

" Why, I understood him to say that if America 
meant anything at all it meant the honor of work, but 
that you distinguished and did not honor some kinds 
of work so much as others: for instance, domestic 
service, or personal attendance of any kind." 

The banker laughed again. "Oh, he drew the line 


there, did lie ? Well, we all have to draw the line 
somewhere. Our friend is a novelist, and I will tell 
you in strict confidence that the line he has drawn is 
imaginary. We don t honor any kind of work any 
more than any other people. If a fellow gets up, the 
papers make a great ado over his having been a 
wood-chopper, or a bobbin-boy, or something of that 
kind, but I doubt if the fellow himself likes it ; he 
dosen t if he s got any sense. The rest of us feel 
that it s infra dig., and hope nobody will find out 
that we ever worked with our hands for a living. 
I ll go farther," said the banker, -with the effect of 
whistling prudence down the wind, " and I will 
challenge any of you to gainsay me from his own 
experience or observation. How does esteem usually 
express itself ? When we wish to honor a man, what 
do we do ? " 

" Ask him to dinner, " said the lawyer. 

"Exactly. We offer him some sort of social recog 
nition. Well, as soon as a fellow gets up, if he gets 
up high enough, we offer him some sort of social 
recognition ; in fact, all sorts ; but upon condition 
that he has left off working with his hands for a 
living. We forgive all you please to his past on ac- 


count of the present. But there isn t a workingman I 
venture to say, in any city, or town, or even large vil 
lage, in the whole length and breadth of the United 
States who has any social recognition, if he is still 
working at his trade. I don t mean, merely, that he 
is excluded from rich and fashionable society, but 
from the society of the average educated and culti 
vated people. I m not saying he is fit for it ; but I 
don t care how intelligent and agreeable he might 
be and some of them arc astonishingly intelligent, 
and so agreeable in their tone of mind, and their 
original way of looking at things, that I like nothing- 
better than to talk with them all of our invisible 
fences are up against him." 

The minister said : "I wonder if that sort of cxclti- 
siveness is quite natural ? Children seem to feel no 
sort of social difference among themselves." 

" We can hardly go to children for a type of social 
order, " the professor suggested. 

" True, " the minister meekly admitted. "But 
somehow there is a protest in us somewhere against 
these arbitrary distinctions ; something that questions 
whether they are altogether right. We know that 
they must be, and always have been, and always will 


be, and yet well, I will confess it I never feel at 
peace when I face them." 

" Oh, " said the banker, " if you come to the 
question of right and wrong, that is another matter. 
I don t say it s right. I m not discussing that ques 
tion ; though I m certainly not proposing to level the 
fences ; I should be the last to take my own down. 
I say simply that you are no more likely to meet a 
workingman in American society than you are to 
meet a colored man. Now you can judge, " he 
ended, turning directly to the Altrurian, "how much 
we honor labor. And I hope I have indirectly sat 
isfied your curiosity as to the social status of the 
workingman among us." 

We were all silent. Perhaps the others were 
occupied like myself in trying to recall some instance 
of a workingman whom they had met in society, and 
perhaps we said nothing because we all failed. 

The Altrurian spoke at last. 

"You have been so very full and explicit that I 
feel as if it were almost unseemly to press any 
further inquiry ; but I should very much like to know 
how your workingmcn bear this social exclusion." 

" I m sure I can t say, " returned the banker. " A 


man does not care much to get into society until he 
lias something to eat, and how to get that is always 
the first question with the workingman. 1 

" But you wouldn t like it yourself ? " 

" No, certainly, I shouldn t like it myself. I 
shouldn t complain of not being asked to people s 
houses, and the workingmen don t ; you can t do 
that ; but I should feel it an incalculable loss. We 
may laugh at the emptiness of society, or pretend to 
be sick of it, but there is no doubt that society is the 
flower of civilization, and to be shut out from it is to 
be denied the best privilege of a civilized man. 
There are society -women we have all met them 
vvhose graciousness and refinement of presence are 
something of incomparable value ; it is more than a 
liberal education to have been admitted to it, but it is 
as inaccessible to the workingman as what shall I 
say ? The thing is too grotesquely impossible for 
any sort of comparison. Merely to conceive of its 
possibility is something that passes a joke ; it is a 
kind of offence." 

Again we were silent. 

" I don t know, " the banker continued, how the 
notion of our social equality originated, but I think 


it has been fostered mainly by the expectation of 
foreigners, who argued it from our political 
equality. As a matter of fact, it never existed, 
except in our poorest and most primitive commun 
ities, in the pioneer days of the West, and among 
the gold-hunters of California. It was not dreamt 
of in our colonial society, either in Virginia, or 
Pennsylvania, or New York, or Massachusetts ; and 
the fathers of the republic, ~who were mostly slave 
holders, were practically as stiffnecked aristocrats 
as any people of their day. AYe have not a polit 
ical aristocracy, that is all ; but there is as abso 
lute a division between the orders of men, and as 
little love, in this country as in any country on 
the globe. The severance of the man who works 
for his living with his hands from the man who 
does not work for his living Avith his hands is so 
complete, and apparently so final, that nobody even 
imagines anything else, not even in fiction. Or, 
how is that?" he asked, turning to me. " Do you 
fellows still put the intelligent, high-spirited, hand 
some young artisan, who wins the millionaire s 
daughter into your books ? I used sometimes to find 
him there." 


"You might still find ,him in the fiction of the 
weekly story-papers ; but, " I was obliged to own, 
" he would not go down with my readers. Even in 
the story-paper fiction he would leave off working 
as soon as he married the millionaire s daughter, and 
go to Europe, or he would stay here and become a 
social leader, but he would not receive workingmen 
in his gilded halls." 

The others rewarded my humor with a smile, but 
the banker said : "Then I wonder you were uot 
ashamed o"f filling our friend up with that stuff about 
our honoring some kinds of labor. It is true that 
we don t go about openly and explicitly despising any 
kind of honest toil people don t do that anywhere, 
now ; but we contemn it in terms quite as u imistak- 
able. The workingrnan acquiesces as completely as 
anybody else. He docs not remain a workingman a 
moment longer than he can help ; and after he gets 
up, if he is weak enough to be proud of having been 
one it is because he feels that his low origin is a 
proof of his prowess in rising to the top against 
unusual odds. I don t suppose there is a man in 
the whole civilized world outside of Altruria, of 

course who is proud of working at a trade, except 


the shoemaker Tolstoy, and he is a count, and he 
docs not make very good shoes." 

We all laughed again : those shoes of Count 
Tolstoy s arc always such an infallible joke. The 
Altrurian, however, was cocked and primed with an 
other question ; he instantly exploded it. " But arc 
all the workingmcn in America eager to rise above 
their condition ? Is there none willing to remain 
among the mass because the rest could not rise with 
him, and from the hope of yet bringing labor to 
honor ? " 

The banker answered : " I never heard of any. No, 
the American ideal is not to change the conditions for 
all, but for each to rise above the rest if he can." 

"Do you think it is really so bad as that?" asked 
the minister timidly. 

The banker answered : "Bad? Do you call that 
bad ? I thought it was very good. But good or bad, 
I don t think you ll find it deniable, if you look into 
the facts. There may be workingmcn willing to re 
main so for other workingmcn s sake, but I have never 
met any perhaps because the workingman never 
goes into society." 

The unfailing question of the Altrurian broke the 


silence which ensued : " Are there many of your 
workingmen who are intelligent and agreeable of 
the type you mentioned a moment since ? " 

" Perhaps, " said the banker, "I had better refer 
you to one of our friends here, who has had a great 
deal more to do with them than I have. He is a 
manufacturer and he has had to do with all kinds of 
work-people. " 

" Yes, for my sins, " the manufacturer assented ; 
and he added, " They are often confoundedly intel 
ligent, though I haven t often found them very agr-- 
able, cither in their tone of mind or their original 
way of looking at things." 

The banker amiably acknowledged his thrust, and 
the Altrurian asked, " Ah, they are opposed to your 
own ? " 

" Well, we have the same trouble here that you 
must have heard of in England. As you know now 
that the conditions are the same here, you won t be 
surprised at the fact." 

" But the conditions," the Altrurian pursued ; " do 
you expect them always to continue the same ? " 

"Well, I don t know," said the manufacturer. 
" We can t expect them to change of themselves, and 


I shouldn t know how to change them. It was ex 
pected that the rise of the trusts and the syndicates 
would break the unions, but somehow they haven t. 
The situation remains the same. The unions are 
not cutting one another s throats, now, any more than 
we are. The war is on a larger scale that s all." 

"Then let me see," said the Altrurian, " whether I 
clearly understand the situation, as regards the work- 
ingman in America. He is dependent upon the em 
ployer for his chance to earn a living, and he is never 
sure of this. He may be thrown out of work by his 
employer s disfavor or disaster, and his willingness to 
work goes for nothing ; there is no public provision 
of work for him ; there is nothing to keep him from 
want, nor the prospect of anything." 

" We are all in the same boat," said the professor. 

" But some of us have provisioned ourselves rather 
better and can generally weather it through till we 
arc picked up," the lawyer put in. 

" I am always saying the workingman is improvi 
dent," returned the professor. 

" There are the charities," the minister suggested. 

" But his economical status," the Altrurian pursued, 
" is in a state of perpetual uncertainty, and to save 


himself in some measure he has organized, and so has 
constituted himself a danger to the public peace ? " 

" A very great danger," said the professor. 

" I guess we can manage him," the manufacturer 

" And socially he is non-existent? " 

The Altrurian turned with this question to the 
banker, who said, " He is certainly not in society." 

" Then," said my guest, " if the workingman s 
wages are provisionally so much better here than in 
Europe, why should they be discontented ? What is 
the real cause of th eir discontent ? " 

I have always been suspicious, in the company of 
practical men, of an atmosphere of condescension to 
men of my calling, if nothing worse. I fancy they 
commonly regard artists of all kinds as a sort of 
harmless eccentrics, and that literary people they look 
upon as something droll, as weak and soft, as not 
quite right. I believed that this particular group, in 
deed, was rather abler to conceive of me as a rational 
person than most others, but I knew that if even they 
had expected me to be as reasonable as themselves 
they would not have been greatly disappointed if I 
were not ; and it seemed to me that I had put myself 


wrong with them in imparting to the Altrurian that 
romantic impression that we hold labor in honor here. 
I had really thought so, but I could not say so now, 
and I wished to retrieve myself somehow. I wished 
to show that I was a practical man, too, and so I made 
answer : " What is the cause of the workingman s dis 
content ? It is very simple : the walking-delegate." 


I SUPPOSE I could not have fairly claimed any great 
originality for my notion that the walking-delegate 
was the cause of the labor troubles : he is regularly 
assigned as the reason of a strike in the newspapers, 
and is reprobated for his evil agency by the editors, 
who do not fail to read the workingmcn many solemn 
lessons, and fervently warn them against him, as soon 
as the strike begins to go wrong as it nearly always 
does. I understand from them that the walking-del 
egate is an irresponsible tyrant, who emerges from 
the mystery that habitually hides him and from time 
to time orders a strike in mere rancor of spirit and 
plenitude of power, and then leaves the workingmen 
and their families to suffer the consequences, while 


he goes off somewhere and rolls in the lap of luxury, 
careless of the misery he has created. Between his 
debauches of vicious idleness and his accesses of bale 
ful activity he is employed in poisoning the mind of 
the workingmen against his real interests and real 
friends. This is perfectly easy, because the American 
workingmen, though singularly shrewd and sensible 
in other respects, is the victim of an unaccountable 
obliquity of vision which keeps him from seeing his 
real interests and real friends -or at least from know 
ing them when he sees them. 

There could be no doubt, I thought, in the mind of 
any reasonable person that the walking-delegate was 
Tihe source of the discontent among our proletariat, 
Mnd I alleged him with a confidence which met the 
ajpproval of the professor, apparently, for he nodded, 
afe if to say that I had hit the nail on the head this 
time ; and the minister seemed to be freshly impressed 
with a notion that could not be new to him. The 
lawyer and the doctor were silent, as if waiting for 
the banker to speak again ; but he was silent, too. 
The manufacturer, to my chagrin, broke into a laugh. 
" I m afraid," he said, with a^sardonic levity which 
surprised me, " you ll have to go a good deal deeper 


than the walking-delegate. He s a symptom ; he isn t 
the disease. The thing keeps on and on, and it seems 
to be always about wages ; but it isn t about wages at 
the bottom. Some of those fellows know it and 
some of them don t, but the real discontent is with 
the whole system, with the nature of things. I had 
a curious revelation on that point the last time I tried 
to deal with my men as a union. They were always 
bothering me about this and about that, and there 
was no end to the bickering. I yielded point after 
point, but it didn t make any difference. It seemed 
as if the more I gave the more they asked. At last 
I made up my mind to try to get at the real inward 
ness of the matter, and I didn t wait for their com 
mittee to come to me I sent for their leading man, 
and said I wanted to have it out with him. He wasn t 
a bad fellow, and when I got at him, man to man that 
way, I found he had sense, and he had ideas it s no 
use pretending those fellows are fools ; he had thought 
about his side of the question, any way. I said : 
* Now what docs it all mean ? Do you want the 
earth, or don t you ? When is it going to end ? I 
offered him something to take, but he said he didn t 
drink, and we compromised on cigars. Now when 


is it going to end ? said I, and I pressed it home, 
and wouldn t let him fight off from the point. * Do 
you mean when it is all going to end ? said he. 
Yes, said I, all. I m sick of it. If there s any 
way out I d like to know it. Well, said he, I ll 
tell you, if you want to know. It s all going to end 
when you get the same amount of money for the 
same amount of work as we do. " 

We all laughed uproariously. The thing was dc- 
liciously comical ; and nothing, I thought, attested 
the Altrurian s want of humor like his failure to 
appreciate this joke. He did not even smile in ask 
ing, " And what did you say ? " 

" Well," returned the manufacturer, with cosy en 
joyment, " I asked him if the men would take the 
concern and run it themselves." We laughed again ; 
this seemed even better than the other joke. " But 
he said No ; they would not like to do that. And 
then I asked him just what they would like, if they 
could have their own way, and he said they would 
like to have me run the business, and all share alike. 
I asked him what was the sense of that, and why if 
I could do something that all of them put together 
couldn t do I shouldn t be paid more than all of them 


put together ; and he said that if a man did his best he 
ought to be paid as much as the best man. I asked him 
if that was the principle their union was founded on, 
and he said l Yes, that the very meaning of their union 
was the protection of the weak by the strong, and the 
equalization of earnings among all who do their best." 

We waited for the manufacturer to go on, but he 
made a dramatic pause at this point, as if to let it sink 
into our minds ; and he did not speak until the Altru- 
rian prompted him with the question, " And what did 
you finally do ? " 

" I saw there was only one way out for me, and I 
told the fellow I did not think I could do business 
on that principal. We parted friends but the next 
Saturday I locked them out, and smashed their union. 
They came back, most of them they had to but 
I ve treated with them ever since as individuals. " 

" And they re much better off in your hands than 
they were in the union," said the professor. 

" I don t know about that," said the manufacturer, 
" but I m sure I am." 

We laughed with him, all but the minister, whose 
mind seemed to have caught upon some other point, 
and who sat absently by. 


" And is it your opinion, from what you know of 
the workingmcn generally, that they all have this twist 
in their heads ? " the professor asked. 

" They have, until they begin to rise. Then they 
get rid of it mighty soon. Let a man save something 
enough to get a house of his own, and take a 
boarder or two, and perhaps have a little money at 
interest and he sees the matter in another light." 

" Do you think he sees it more clearly ? " asked 
the minister. 

" He sees it differently." 

" What do you think ? " the minister pursued, turn 
ing to the lawyer. "You are used to dealing with 
questions of justice" 

" Rather more with questions of law, I m afraid," 
the other returned pleasantly, putting his feet to 
gether before him and looking down at them, in a 
way he had. " But still, I have a great interest in 
questions of justice, and I confess that I find, a cer 
tain wild equity in this principle, which I see nobody 
could do business on. It strikes me as idyllic it s a 
touch of real poetry in the rough-and-tumble prose of 
our economic life." 

He referred this to me as something I might appre- 


ciate in my quality of literary man, and I responded 
in my quality of practical man, " There s certainly 
more rhyme than reason in it." 

He turned again to the minister : 

" I suppose the ideal of the Christain state is the 
family ? " 

" I hope so," said the minister, with the gratitude 
that I have seen people of his cloth show when men of 
the world conceded premises which the world usually 
contests ; it has seemed to me pathetic. 

" And if that is the case, why the logic of the pos 
tulate is that the prosperity of the weakest is the 
sacred charge and highest happiness of all the 
stronger. But the law has not recognized any such 
principle, in economics at least, and if the labor unions 
are based upon it they are outlaw, so far as any hope 
of enforcing it is concerned ; and it is bad for men to 
feel themselves outlaw. How is it," the lawyer contin 
ued, turning to the Altrurian, 4t in your country? We 
can see no issue here, if the first principle of organ 
ized labor antagonizes the first principle of business." 

"But I don t understand precisely yet what the 
first principle of business is," returned my guest. 

" Ah, that raises another interesting question," said 


the lawyer. " Of course every business man solves 
the problem practically according to his temperament 
and education, and I suppose that on first thoughts 
every business man would answer you accordingly. 
But perhaps the personal equation is something you 
wish to eliminate from the definition." 

" Yes, of course." 

" Still, I would rather not venture upon it first," 
said the lawyer. " Professor, what should you say 
was the first principle of business?" 

" Buying in the cheapest market and selling in the 
dearest," the professor promptly answered. 

" We will pass the parson and the doctor and the 
novelist as witnesses of no value. They can t possibly 
have any cognizance of the first principle of business ; 
their affair is to look after the souls and bodies and 
fancies of other people. But what should you say it 
was ? " he asked the banker. 

" I should say it was an enlightened conception of 
one s own interests." 

" And you ? " 

The manufacturer had no hesitation in answering : 
" The good of Number One first, last, and all the time. 
There may be a difference of opinion about the best 


way to get at it ; the long way may be the better, or 
the short way ; the direct way or the oblique way, or 
the purely selfish way, or the partly selfish way ; but 
if you ever lose sight of that end you might as well 
shut up shop. That seems to be the first law of 
nature, as well as the first law of business." 

" Ah, we mustn t go to nature for our morality," 
the minister protested. 

" We were not talking of morality," said the man 
ufacturer, " we were talking of business." 

This brought the laugh on the minister, but the 
lawyer cut it short: "Well, then, I don t really see 
why the trades-unions are not as business-like as the 
syndicates in their dealings with all those outside of 
themselves. Within themselves they practice an 
altruism of the highest order, but it is a tribal altru 
ism ; it is like that which prompts a Sioux to share 
his last mouthful with a starving Sioux, and to take 
the scalp of a starving Apaehe. How is it with your 
trades-unions in Altruria ? " he asked my friend. 

" We have no trades-unions in Altruria," he began. 

" Happy Altruria ! " cried the professor. 

" W T e had them formerly," the Altrurian went on, 
" as you have them now. They claimed, as I suppose 


yours do, that they were forced into existence by the 
necessities of the case ; that without union the work- 
ingman was unable to meet the capitalist on anything 
like equal terms, or to withstand his encroachments 
and oppressions. But to maintain themselves they 
had to extinguish industrial liberty among the work- 
ingmen themselves, and they had to practice great 
cruelties against those who refused to join them or 
who rebelled against them." 

" They simply destroy them here," said the pro 

" Well," said the lawyer, from his judicial mind, 
" the great syndicates have no scruples in destroying 
a capitalist who won t come into them, or who tries 
to go out. They don t club him or stone him, but 
they undersell him and freeze him out ; they don t 
break his head, but they bankrupt him The princi 
ple is the same." 

" Don t interrupt Mr. Homos," the banker en 
treated. " I am very curious to know just how they 
got rid of labor unions in Altruria." 

" We had syndicates, too, and finally we had the 
reductio ad absurdum we had a federation of labor 
unions and a federation of syndicates, that dividdd 


the nation into two camps. The situation was not 
only impossible, but it was insupportably ridiculous." 

I ventured to say, " It hasn t become quite so much 
of a joke with us yet." 

" Isn t it in a fair way to become so ? " asked the 
doctor ; and he turned to the lawyer : " What should 
you say was the logic of events among us for the last 
ten or twenty years ? " 

" There s nothing so capricious as the logic of 
events. It s like a woman s reasoning you can t 
tell what it s aimed at, or where it s going to fetch 
up ; all that you can do is to keep out of the way if 
possible. We may come to some such condition of 
things as they have in Altruria, where the faith of 
the whole nation is pledged to secure every citizen in 
the pursuit of happiness ; or we may revert to some 
former condition, and the master may again own the 
man ; or we may hitch and joggle along indefinitely, 
as we are doing now." 

"But come, now," said the banker, while he laid a 
caressing touch on the Altrurian s shoulder, " you 
don t mean to say honestly that everybody works 
with his hands in Altruria ? " 

" Yes, certainly. We are mindful, as a whole peo- 


pie, of the divine law, ( In the sweat of thy brow shalt 
thou eat bread. " 

" But the capitalists ? I m anxious about Number 
One, you see." 

" We have none." 

" I forgot, of course. But the lawyers, the doctors, 
the parsons, the novelists?" 

"They all do their share of hand work." 

The lawyer said : " That seems to dispose of the 
question of the workingman in society. But how 
about your minds ? When do you cultivate your 
minds? When do the ladies of Altruria cultivate 
their minds, if they have to do their own work, as I 
suppose they do? Or is it only the men who work, if 
they happen to be the husbands and fathers of the 
upper classes? " 

The Altrurian seemed to be sensible of the kindly 
skepticism which persisted in our reception of his 
statements, after all we had read of Altruria. He 
smiled indulgently, and said : "i You mustn t imagine 
that work in Altruria is the same as it is here. As 
we all work, the amount that each one need do is very 
little, a few hours each day at the most, so that every 
man and woman has abundant leisure and perfect 


spirits for the higher pleasures which the education 
of their whole youth has fitted them to enjoy. If you 
can understand a state of things where the sciences 
and arts .and letters are cultivated for their own sake, 
and not as a means of livelihood " 

" No," said the lawyer, smiling, " I m afraid we 
can t conceive of that. AYo consider the pinch of 
poverty the highest incentive that a man can have. 
If our gifted friend here," he said, indicating me, 
" were not kept like a toad under the harrow, with 
his nose on the grindstone, and the poorhouse staring 
him in the face " 

" For heaven s sake," I cried out, "don t mix your 
metaphors so, anyway ! " 

"If it were not for that and all the other hardships 
that literary men undergo 

* Toil, envy, want, the patron and the jail 

his novels probably wouldn t be worth reading." 

" All ! " said the Altrurian, as if he did not quite 
follow this joking ; and to tell the truth, I never find 
the personal thing in very good taste. " You will 
understand, then, how extremely difficult it is for me 
to imagine a condition of things like yours although 


I have it under my very eyes^where the money con 
sideration is the first consideration." 

" Oh, excuse me ! " urged the minister, " I don t 
think that s quite the case." 

" I beg your pardon," said the Altrurian, sweetly ; 
" you can see how easily I go astray." 

" Why, I don t know," the banker interposed, 
u that you are so far out in what you say. If you had 
said that money was always the first motive, I should 
have been inclined to dispute you, too ; but when you 
say that money is the first consideration, I think you 
are quite right. Unless a man secures his financial 
basis for his work, he can t do his work. It s non 
sense to pretend otherwise. So the money consider 
ation is the first consideration. People here have to 
live by their work, and to live they must have money. 
Of course, we all recognize a difference in the quali 
ties, as well as in the kinds, of work. The work of 
the laborer may be roughly defined as the necessity 
of his life ; the work of the business man as the 
means, and the work of the artist and scientist as the 
end. We might refine upon these definitions and 
make them closer, but they will serve for illustration 
as they are. I don t think there can be any question 


as to which is the highest kind of work ; some truths 
are self-evident. He is a fortunate man whose work 
is an end, and every business man sees this, and 
owns it to himself, at least when he meets some man 
of an aesthetic or scientific occupation. He knows 
that this luckier fellow has a joy in his work, which he 
can never feel in business ; that his success in it can 
never be embittered by the thought that it is the 
failure of another ; that if he does it well, it is pure 
good ; that there cannot be any competition in it 
there can be only a noble emulation, as far as the work 
itself is concerned. He can always look up to his 
work, for it is something above him ; and a business 
man often has to look down upon his business, for it is 
often beneath him, unless he is a pretty low fellow." 
I listened to all this in surprise ; I knew that the 
banker was a cultivated man, a man of university 
training, and that he was a reader and a thinker ; but 
he had always kept a certain reserve in his talk, 
which he now seemed to have thrown aside for the 
sake of the Altrurian, or because the subject had a 
charm that lured him out of himself. " Well, now," 
he continued, " the question is of the money consid 
eration, which is the first consideration with us all : 


does it, or doesn t it degrade the work, which is the 
life, of those among us whose work is the highest ? I 
understand that this is the misgiving which troubles 
you in view of our conditions ? " 

The Altrurian assented, and I thought it a proof of 
the banker s innate delicacy that he did not refer the 
matter, so far as it concerned the aesthetic life and 
work, to me ; I was afraid he was going to do so. But 
he courteously proposed to keep the question imper 
sonal, and he went on to consider it himself. " Well, 
I don t suppose any one can satisfy you fully. But I 
should say that it put such men under a double strain, 
and perhaps that is the reason why so many of them 
break down in a calling that is certainly far less ex 
hausting than business. On one side, the artist is 
kept to the level of the workingman, of the animal, 
of the creature whose sole affair is to get something 
to eat and somewhere to sleep. This is through his 
necessity. On the other side, he is exalted to the 
height of beings who have no concern but with the 
excellence of their work, which they were born and 
divinely authorized to do. This is through his pur 
pose. Between the two, I should say that he got 
mixed, and that his work shows it." 


None of the others said anything, and since I had 
not been personally appealed to, I felt the freer to 
speak. " If you will suppose me to be speaking from 
observation rather than experience, I began. 

"By all means," said the banker, " go on," and the 
rest made haste in various forms to yield me the word. 

" I should say that such a man certainly got mixed, 
but that his work kept itself pure from the money 
consideration, as it were, in spite of him. A painter, 
or actor, or even a novelist, is glad to get all he can 
for his work, and, such is our fallen nature, he does 
.get all he knows how to get; but when he has once 
fairly passed into his work, he loses himself in it. He 
docs not think whether it will pay or not, whether it 
\till be popular or not, but whether he can make it 
good or not." 

"Well, that is conceivable," said the banker. 
" But wouldn t lie rather do something he would get 
Icsslfor, if he could afford it, than the thing he knows 
He will get more for? Doesn t the money considera 
tion influence his choice of subject?" 

" Uddly enough, I don t believe it docs," I ans- 
wtrcd, after a moment s reflection. u A man makes 
1/is choice once for all when he embraces the aesthetic 


life, or rather it is made for him ; no other life seems 
possible. I know there is a general belief that an ar 
tist does the kind of thing he has made go because it 
pays ; but this only shows the prevalence of business 
ideals. If he did not love to do the thing he does he 
could not do it well, no matter how richly it paid." 

" I am glad to hear it," said the banker, and he 
added to the Altrurian : " So you see we are not so 
bad as one would think. We are illogically better, 
in fact." 

" Yes," the other assented. " I knew something 
of your literature as well as your conditions before I 
left home, and I perceived that by some anomaly, the 
one was not tainted by the other. It is a miraculous 
proof of the divine mission of the poet." 
- " And the popular novelist," the lawyer whispered 
in my ear, but loud enough for the rest to hear, and 
they all testified their amusement at my cost. 

The Altrurian, with his weak sense of humor, 
passed the joke. " It shows no signs of corruption 
from greed, but I can t help thinking that fine as it 
is, it might have been much finer if the authors who 
produced it had been absolutely freed to their work, 
and had never felt the spur of need." 


"Arc they absolutely freed to it in Altruria?" 
asked the professor. " I understood you that every 
body had to work for his living in Altruria." 

"That is a mistake. Nobody works for his living 
in Altruria ; he works for others living." 

" Ah, that is precisely what our workingmen object 
to doing here ! " said the manufacturer. " In that 
last interview of mine with the walking-delegate he 
had the impudence to ask me why my men should 
work for my living as well as their own." 

" He couldn t imagine that you were giving them 
the work to do the very means of life," said the 

" Oh, no, that s the last thing those fellows want 
to think of." 

" Perhaps," the Altrurian suggested, " they might 
not have have found it such a hardship to work for 
your living if their own had been assured, as it is 
with us. If you will excuse my saying it, we should 
think it monstrous in Altruria for any man to have 
another s means of life in his power ; and in our con 
dition it is hardly imaginable. Do you really have it 
in your power to take away a man s opportunity to 
earn a living? " 


The manufacturer laughed uneasily. " It is in my 
power to take away his life ; but I don t habitually 
shoot my fellow men, and I never dismissed a man 
yet without. good reason." 

" Oh, I beg your pardon," said the Altrurian. " I 
didn t dream of accusing you of such inhumanity. 
But you see our whole system is so very different 
that, as I said, it is hard for me to conceive of yours, 
and I am very curious to understand its workings. 
If you shot your fellowman, as you say, the law would 
punish you ; but if for some reason that you decided 
to be good you took away his means of living, and he 
actually starved to death" 

" Then the law would have nothing to do with it," 
the professor replied for the manufacturer, who did 
not seem ready to answer. " But that is not the way 
things fall out. The man would be supported in idle 
ness, probably, till he got another job, by his union, 
which would take the matter up." 

" But I thought that our friend did not employ 
union labor," returned the Altrurian. 

I found all this very uncomfortable, and tried to 
turn the talk back to a point that I felt curious about. 
" But iu Altruria, if the literary class is not exempt 


from the rule of manual labor where do they find time 
and strength to write ? " 

" Why, you must realize that our manual labor is 
never engrossing or exhausting. It is no more than 
is necessary to keep the body in health. I do not see 
how you remain well here, you people of sedentary 

" Oh, we all take some sort of exercise. We walk 
several hours a day, or we row, or we ride a bicycle, 
or a horse, or we fence." 

" But to us," returned the Altrurian, with a grow 
ing frankness, which nothing but the sweetness of his 
manner would have excused, "exercise for exercise 
would appear stupid. The barren expenditure of 
force that began and ended in itself, and produced 
nothing, we should if you will excuse my saying so 
look upon as childish, if not insane or immoral." 


AT this moment, the lady who had hailed me so 
gaily from the top of the coach while I stood waiting 
for the Altrurian to help the porter with the baggage, 
just after the arrival of the train, came up with her 
husband to our little group and said to me : " I want 
to introduce my husband to you. He adores your 
books." She went on much longer to this effect, 
while the other men grinned round and her husband 
tried to look as if it were all true, and her eyes wan 
dered to the Altrurian, who listened gravely. I knew 
perfectly well that she was using her husband s zeal 
for my fiction to make me present my friend ; but I 
dill not mind that, and I introduced him to both of 
them. She took possession of him at once and began 
walking him off down the piazza, while her husband 


remained with me, and the members of our late con 
ference drifted apart. I was not sorry to have it 
broken up for the present; it seemed to me that it 
had lasted quite long enough, and I lighted a cigar 
with the husband, and we strolled together in the 
direction his wife had taken. 

He began, apparently in compliment to literature 
in my person, " Yes, I like to have a book where I 
can get at it when we re not going out to the theatre, 
and I want to quiet my mind down after business. I 
don t care much what the book is ; my wife reads to 
me till I drop off, and then she finishes the book her 
self and tells me the rest of the story. You see, 
business takes it out of you so ! Well, I let my wife 
do most of the reading, anyway. She knows pretty 
much everything that s going in that line. We 
haven t got any children, and it occupies her mind. 
She s up to all sorts of things she s artistic, and 
she s musical, and she s dramatic, and she s literary. 
Well, I like to have her. Women are funny, anyway." 

He was a good-looking, good-natufed, average 
American of the money-making type ; I believe he 
was some sort of a broker, but I do not quite know 
what his business was. As we walked up and down 


the piazza, keeping a discreet little distance from the 
corner where his wife had run off to with her capture, 
he said he wished he could get more time with her in 
the summer but he supposed I knew what business 
was. He was glad she could have the rest, anyway ; 
she needed it. 

" By the way," he asked, " who is this friend of 
yours? The women are all crazy about him, and it s 
been an even thing between my wife and Miss 
Groundsel which would fetch him first. But I ll bet 
on my wife every time, when it comes to a thing like 
that. He s a good looking fellow some kind of for 
eigner, I believe ; pretty eccentric, too, I guess. 
Where is Altruria, anyway ? " 

I told him, and he said : " Oh, yes. Well, if we 
are going to restrict immigration, I suppose we 
sha n t see many more Altrurians, and we d better 
make the most of this one. Heigh ? " 

I do not know why this innocent pleasantry piqued 
me to say : " If I understand the Altrurians, my dear 
fellow, nothing could induce them to emigrate to 
America. As far as I can make out, they would re 
gard it very mucli as we should regard settling among 
the Esquimaux." 


u Is fhat so ? " asked my new acquaintance, with 
perfect good temper. " Why ? " 

" Really, I can t say, and I don t know that IVe 
explicit authority for my statement." 

" They are worse than the English used to be/ he 
went on. " I didn t know that there were any for 
eigners who looked at us in that light now. I 
thought the War settled all that." 

I sighed. " There are a good many things that 
the war didn t settle so definitely as we ve been used 
to thinking, I m afraid. But for that matter, I fancy 
an Altrurian would regard the English as a little lower 
in the scale of savagery than ourselves even." 

"Is that so? Well, that s pretty good on the 
English, anyway," said my companion, and he laughed 
with an easy satisfaction that I envied him. 

u My dear ! " his wife called to him from where 
she was sitting with the Altrurian, " I wish you would 
go for my shawl. I begin to feel the air a little." 

" I ll go if you ll tell me where," he said, and he 
confided to me, " Never knows where her shawl is, 
one-quarter of the time." 

" Well, I think I left it in the office somewhere. 
You might ask at the desk ; or, perhaps it s in the 


rack by the dining room door or maybe up in our 

" I thought so," said her husband, with another 
glance at me, as if it were the greatest fun in the 
world, and he started amiably off. 

I went and took a chair by the lady and the Altru- 
rian, and she began at once : " Oh, I m so glad 
you ve come ! I have been trying to enlighten Mr. 
-Homos about some of the little social peculiarities 
among us, that he finds so hard to understand. He 
was just now," the lady continued, " wanting to know 
why all the natives out here were not invited to go in 
and join our young people in the dance, and I ve been 
trying to tell him that we consider it a great favor to 
let them come and take up so much of the piazza and 
look in at {he windows." 

She gave a little laugh of superiority, and twitched 
her pretty head in the direction of the young country 
girls and country fellows who were thronging the 
place that night in rather unusual numbers. They 
were well enough looking, and as it was Saturday 
night they were in their best. I suppose their dress 
could have been criticised ; the young fellows were 
clothed by the ready-made clothing store, and the 


young girls after their own devices from the fashion- 
papers ; but their general effect was good and 
their behavior was irreproachable ; they were very 
quiet if anything, too quiet. They took up a part 
of the piazza that was yielded them by common 
usage, and sat watching the hop inside, not so much 
enviously, I thought, as wistfully ; and for the first 
time it struck me as odd that they should have no 
part in the gayety. I had often seen them there be 
fore, but I had never thought it strange they should 
be shut out. It had always seemed quite normal, but 
now, suddenly, for one baleful moment, it seemed 
abnormal. I suppose it was the talk we had been 
having about the workingmen in society which caused 
me to see the thing as the Altrurian must have seen 
it ; but I was, nevertheless, vexed with him for having 
asked such a question, after he had been so fully in 
structed upon the point. It was malicious of him, or 
it was stupid. I hardened my heart, and answered : 
"You might have told him, for one thing, that they 
were not dancing because they had not paid the 

" Then the money consideration enters even into 

your social pleasures?" asked the Altrurian. 



" Very much. Doesn t it with you \ * 

He evaded this question, as he evaded all straight 
forward questions concerning his country : " We have 
no money consideration, you know. But do I under 
stand that all your social entertainments are paid for 
.y-.;.-: _-.;,-.-. 

" Oh, no, not so bad as that, quite. There are a 
great many that the host pays for. Even here, in a 
hotel, the host furnishes the music and the room free 
to the guests of the house.* 

" And none are admitted from the outside ? * 

"Oh, yes, people are welcome from all the other 

hotels and boarding-houses and the private cottages. 

The young men arc especially welcome : there are not 
enough young men in the hotel to go round, you see/ 
In fact, we could see that some of the pretty girls 
within were dancing with other girls ; half -grown boys 
were dangling from the waists of tall young ladies 
and waltzing on tiptoe. 

** Isn t that rather droll ? " asked the Altrurian. 

* It s grotesque ! I said, and I felt ashamed of it. 
u But what are you to do ? The young men are hard 
at work in the cities, as many as can get work there, 
and the rest are out West, growing up with the coun- 


try. There are twenty young girls for every young 
man at all the summer-resorts in the East." 

" But what would happen if these young farmers 
I suppose they are farmers were invited in to take- 
part in the dance ? " asked my friend. 

" But that is impossible." 

" Why ? " 

" Really, Mrs. Makely, I think I shall have to give 
him back to you ! " I said. 

The lady laughed. " I am not sure that I want 
him back." 

" Oh, yes," the Altrurian entreated, with unwonted 
perception of the humor. " I know that I must be 
very trying with my questions ; but do not abandon 
me to the solitude of my own conjectures. They arc 
dreadful ! " 

" Well, I won t," said the lady, with another laugh. 
" And I will try to tell you what would happen if 
those farmers or farm hands, or whatever they are, 
were asked in. The mammas would be very indig 
nant, and the young ladies would be scared, and 
nobody would know what to do, and the dance would 


" Then the young ladies prefer to dance with one 
another and with little boys" 

" No, they prefer to dance with young men of their 
own station ; they would rather not dance at all than 
dance with people beneath them. I don t say any 
thing against these natives here ; they are very civil 
and decent. But they have not the same social 
traditions as the young ladies ; they would be out of 
place with them, and they would feel it." 

" Yes, I can see that they are not fit to associate 
with them," said the Altrurian, with a gleam of com 
mon sense that surprised me, " and that as long as 
your present conditions endure, they never can be. 
You must excuse the confusion which the difference 
between your political ideals and your economic ideals 
constantly creates in me. 1 always think of you 
politically first, and realize you as a perfect democracy; 
then come these other facts, in which I cannot per 
ceive that you differ from the aristocratic countries of 
Europe in theory or practice. It is very puzzling. 
Am I right in supposing that the effect of your 
economy is to establish insuperable inequalities among 
you, and to forbid the hope of the brotherhood which 
your polity proclaims ? " 


Mrs. Makcly looked at me, as if she were helpless 
to grapple with his meaning, and for fear of worse, I 
thought best to evade it. I said, " I don t believe 
that anybody is troubled by those distinctions. We 
are used to them, and everybody acquiesces in them, 
which is a proof that they are a very good thing." 

Mrs. Makely now came to my support. " The 
Americans are very high-spirited, in every class, and 
I don t believe one of those nice farm boys would like 
being asked in any better than the young ladies. You 
can t imagine how proud some of them are." 

" So that they suffer from being excluded as in 
feriors ? " 

" Oh, I assure you they don t _feel themselves 
inferior ! They consider themselves as good as any 
body. There are some very interesting characters 
among them. Now, there is a young girl sitting at 
the first window, with her profile outlined by the 
light, whom I feel it an honor to speak to. That s 
her brother, standing there with her that tall, gaunt 
young man with a Roman face ; it s such a common 
type here " in the mountains. Their father was a sol 
dier, and he distinguished himself so in one of the 
last battles that he was promoted; He was badly 


wounded, but lie never took a pension ; he just came 
back to his farm and worked on till he died. Now 
the son has the farm, and he and his sister live there 
with their mother. The daughter takes in sewing, 
and in that way they manage to make both ends 
meet. The girl is really a first-rate semptress, and so 
cheap ! I give her a good deal of my work in the 
summer, and we arc quite friends. She s very fond of 
reading ; the mother is an invalid, but she reads aloud 
while the daughter sews, and you ve no idea how 
many books they get through. When she comes for 
sewing, I like to talk with her about them ; I always 
have her sit down ; it s hard to realize that she isn t a~ 
lady. I m a good deal criticised, I know, and I sup 
pose I do spoil her a little ; it puts notions into such 
people s heads, if you meet them in that way ; they re 
pretty free and independent as it is. But when I m 
with Lizzie I forget that there is any difference be 
tween us ; I can t help loving the child. You must 
take Mr. Homos to see them, Mr. Twelvemough. 
They ve got the father s sword hung up over the head 
of the mother s bed ; it s very touching. But the 
poor little place is so bare ! " 

Mrs. Makely sighed, and there fell a little pause, 


which she broke with a question she had the effect of 
having kept back. 

" There is one thing I should like to ask you, too, 
Mr. Homos. Is it true that everybody in Altruria 
does some kind of manual labor ? " 

" Why, certainly," he answered, quite as if he had 
been an American. 

" Ladies, too ? Or perhaps you have none ! " 

I thought this rather offensive, but I could not sec 
that the Altrurian had taken it ill. " Perhaps we had 
better try to understand each other clearly before I 
answer that question. You have no titles of nobility 
as they have in England" 

" No, indeed ! I hope we have outgrown those 
superstitions," said Mrs. Makely, with a republican 
fervor that did iny heart good. "It is a word that 
we apply first of all to the moral qualities of a 

" But you said just now that you sometimes forgot 
that your semptress was not a lady. Just what did 
you mean by that ? " 

Mrs. Makely hesitated. " I meant I suppose I 
meant that she had not the surroundings of a lady ; 
the social traditions." 


" Then it has something to do with social as well 
as moral qualities with ranks and classes ? " 

" Classes, yes ; but as you know, we have no ranks 
in America." The Altrurian took oif his hat and 
rubbed an imaginable perspiration from his forehead. 
He sighed deeply. " It is all very difficult." 

"Yes," Mrs. Makely assented, "I suppose it is. 
All foreigners find it so. In fact it is something that 
you have to live into the notion of ; it can t be ex 

"Well, then, my dear madam, will you tell me 
without further question, what you understand by a 
lady, and let me live into the notion of it at my 

" I will do my best," said Mrs. Makely. " But it 
would be so much easier to tell you who was or who 
was not a lady ! However, your acquaintance is so 
limited yet, that I must try to do something in the 
abstract and impersonal for you. In the first place, 
a lady must be above the sordid anxieties in every 
way. She need not be very rich, but she must have 
enough, so that she need not be harrassed about 
making both ends meet, when she ought to be devot 
ing herself to her social duties. The time is passed 


with us when a lady could look after the dinner, and 
perhaps cook part of it herself, and then rush in to 
receive her guests, and do the amenities. She must 
have a certain kind of house, so that her entourage 
won t seem cramped and mean, and she must have 
nice frocks, of course, and plenty of them. She 
needn t be of the smart set ; that isn t at all necessary; 
but she can t afford to be out of the fashion. Of 
course she must have a certain training. She must 
have cultivated tastes ; she must know about art, and 
literature, and music, and all those kind of things, 
and though it isn t necessary to go in for anything in 
particular, it won t hurt her to have a fad or two. 
The nicest kind of fad is charity ; and people go in 
for that a great deal. I think sometimes they use it 
to work up with, and there arc some who use religion 
in the same way ; I think it s horrid ; but it s perfectly 
safe ; you can t accuse them of doing it. I m happy to 
say, though, that mere church association doesn t count 
socially so much as it used to. Charity is a great 
deal more insidious. But you see how hard it is to 
define a lady. So much has to be left to the nerves, 
in all these things ! And then it s changing all the 
time ; Europe s coming in, and the old American 


ideals are passing away. Things that people did ten 
years ago would be impossible now, or at least ridic 
ulous. You wouldn t be considered vulgar, quite, 
but you would certainly be considered a back number, 
and that s almost as bad. Really," said Mrs. Makely, 
" I don t believe I can tell you what a lady is." 

We all laughed together at her frank confession. 
The Altrurian asked, " But do I understand that one 
of her conditions is that she shall have nothing what 
ever to do ? " 

" Nothing to do ! " cried Mrs. Makely. " A lady is 
busy from morning till night! She always goes to 
bed perfectly worn out." 

" But with what ? " asked the Altrurian. 

" With making herself agreeable and her house 
attractive, with going to lunches, and teas, and din 
ners, and concerts, and theatres, and art exhibitions, 
and charity meetings, and receptions, and with 
writing a thousand and one notes about them, and 
accepting and declining, and giving lunches and 
dinners, and making calls and receiving them, and I 
don t know what all. It s the most hideous slavery !" 
Her voice rose into something like a shriek ; one 
could see that her nerves were going at the mere 


thought of it all. u You don t have a moment to 
yourself ; your life isn t your own ! " 

" But the lady isn t allowed to do any useful kind 
of work?" 

Work f Don t you call all that work, and useful? 
I m sure I envy the cook in my kitchen at times ; I 
envy the woman that scrubs my floors. Stop ! Don t 
ask why I don t go into my kitchen, or get down on 
my knees with the mop ! It isn t possible ! You 
simply can t ! Perhaps you could if you were very 
grand dame, but if you re anywhere near the line of 
necessity, or ever have been, you can t. Besides, if 
we did do our own household work, as I understand 
your Altrurian ladies do, what would become of the 
the servant class ? We should be taking away their 
living, and that would be wicked." 

" It would certainly be wrong to take away the 
living of a fellow-creature," the Altrurian gravely 
admitted, " and I see the obstacle in your way." 

" It s a mountain," said the lady, with exhaustion 
in her voice, but a returning amiability ; his forbear 
ance must have placated her. 

" May I ask what the use of your society life is ? " 
he ventured, after a moment. 


" Use ? Why should it have any ? It kills time." 

" Then you are shut up to a hideous slavery with 
out use, except to kill time, and you cannot escape 
from it without taking away the living of those 
dependant on you ? " 

"Yes," I put in, "and that is a difficulty that 
meets us at every turn. It is something that Matthew 
Arnold urged with great effect in his paper on that 
crank of a Tolstoy. He asked what would become 
of the people who need the work, if we served and 
waited on ourselves, as Tolstoy preached. The ques 
tion is unanswerable." 

" That is true ; in your conditions, it is unanswer 
able," said the Altrurian. 

"I think," said Mrs. Makcly, "that under the 
circumstances we do pretty well." 

" Oh, I don t presume to censure you. And if you 
believe that your conditions arc the best"- 

"Wc believe them the best in the best of all 
possible worlds," I said devoutly ; and it struck me 
that if ever we came to have a national church, some 
such affirmation as that concerning our economical 
conditions ought to be in the confession of faith. 

The AJtrurian s mind had not followed mine so far. 


" And your young girls ? " lie asked of Mrs. Makcly, 
" how is their time occupied ? " 

"You mean after they come out in society? " 

" I suppose so." 

She seemed to reflect. " I don t know that it is 
very differently occupied. Of course, they have their 
own amusements ; they have their dances, and little 
clubs, and their sewing societies. I suppose that even 
an Altrurian would applaud their sewing for the 
poor ? " Mrs. Makcly asked rather satirically. 

"Yes," he answered; and then he asked, "Isn t it 
taking work away from some needy sempstress, 
though ? But I suppose you excuse it to the thought 
lessness of youth." 

Mrs. Makcly did not say, and he went on : " What 
I find it so hard to understand is how you ladies can 
endure a life of mere nervous exertion, such as you 
have been describing to me. I don t see how you 
keep well." 

" We don t keep well," said Mrs. Makely, with the 
greatest amusement. " I don t suppose that when you 
get above the working classes, till you reach the very 
rich, you would find a perfectly well woman .n 


"Isn t that rather extreme?" I ventured to ask. 

" No," said Mrs. Makely, " it s shamefully moder 
ate," and she seemed to delight in having made out 
such a bad case for her sex. You can t stop a woman 
of that kind when she gets started ; I had better left 
it alone. 

" But," said the Altrurian, " if you are forbidden 
by motives of humanity from doing any sort of man 
ual labor, which you must leave to those who live by 
it, I suppose you take some sort of exercise ? " 

Well," said Mrs. Makely, shaking her head gaily, 
" we prefer to take medicine." 

" You must approve of that," I said to the Altru 
rian, " as you consider exercise for its own sake 
insane or immoral. But, Mrs. Makely," I entreated, 
" you re giving me away at a tremendous rate. I 
have just been telling Mr. Homos that you ladies go 
in for athletics so much, now, in your summer out 
ings, that there is danger of your becoming physically 
as well as intellectually superior to us poor fellows. 
Don t take that consolation from me ! " 

"I won t, altogether," she said. "I couldn t have 
the heart to, after the pretty way you ve put it. I 
don t call it very athletic, sitting around on hotel 


piazzas all summer long, as ninetcen-twentieths of us 
do. But I don t deny that there is a Remnant, as 
Matthew Arnold calls them, who do go in for tennis, 
and boating, and bathing, and tramping and climb 
ing." She paused, and then she concluded gleefully, 
" And you ought to see what wrecks they get home 
in the fall ! " 

The joke was on me ; I could not help laughing, 
though I felt rather sheepish before the Altrurian. 
Fortunately, he did not pursue the inquiry ; his 
curiosity had been given a slant aside from it. 

" But your ladies," he asked, " they have the 
summer for rest, however they use it. Do they gen 
erally leave town ? I understood Mr. Twelvemough 
to say so," he added with a deferential glance at 

" Yes, you may say it is the universal custom in 
the class that can afford it," said Mrs. Makely. She 
proceeded as if she felt a tacit censure in his question. 
" It wouldn t be the least use for us to stay and fry 
through our summers in the city, simply because our 
fathers and brothers had to. Besides, we are worn 
out at the end of the season, and they want us to 
come away as much as we want to come." 


" Ah, I have always heard that the Americans are 
beautiful in their attitude towards women." 

" They are perfect dears," said Mrs. Makely, " and 
here comes one of the best of them." 

At that moment her husband came up and laid her 
shawl across her shoulders. " Whose character is 
that your blasting ? " he asked, jocosely. 

" Where in the world did you find it ? " she asked, 
meaning the shawl. 

" It was where you left it : on the sofa, in the side 
parlor. I had to take my life in my hand, when I 
crossed among all those waltzcrs in there. There 
must have been as many as three couples on the floor. 
Poor girls ! I pity them, off at these places. The 
fellows in town have a good deal better time. They ve 
got their clubs, and they ve got the theatre, and when 
the weather gets too much for them, they can run 
off down to the shore for the night. The places any 
where within an hour s ride arc full of fellows. The 
girls don t have to dance with one another there, or 
with little boys. Of course, that s all right if they 
like it better." He laughed at his wife, and winked 
at me, and smoked swiftly, in emphasis of his irony. 

" Then the young gentlemen whom the young 


ladies here usually meet in society, are all at work in 
the cities ? " the Altrurian asked him, rather need 
lessly, as I had already said so. 

" Yes, those who are not out West, growing up 
with the country, except, of course, the fellows who 
have inherited a fortune. They re mostly off on 

" But why do your young men go West to grow 
up with the country ? " pursued my friend. 

" Because the East is grown up. They have got 
to hustle, and the West is the place to hustle. To 
make money," added Makely, in response to a puzzled 
glance of the Altrurian. 

" Sometimes," said his wife, " I almost hate the 
name of money." 

" Well, so long as you don t hate the thing, 

" Oh, we must have it, I suppose," she sighed. 
" They used to say about the girls who grew into old 
maids just after the Rebellion that they had lost their 
chance in the war for the union. I think quite as 
many lose their chance now in the war for the dollar." 

" Mars hath slain his thousands, but Mammon hath 

slain his tens of thousands," I suggested lightly ; we 



all like to recognize the facts, so long as we are not 
expected to do anything about them ; then, we deny 

" Yes, quite as bad as that," said Mrs. Makely. 

" Well, my dear, you are expensive, you know," 
said her husband, " and if we want to have you, why 
we ve got to hustle, first." 

" Oh, I don t blame you, you poor things ! There s 
nothing to be done about it ; it s just got to go on 
and on ; I don t see how it s ever to end." 

The Altrurian had been following us with that air 
of polite mystification which I had begun to dread in 
him. " Then, in your good society you postpone, 
and even forego, the happiness of life in the struggle 
to be rich?" 

" Well, you sec," said Makely, " a fellow don t like 
to ask a girl to share a home that isn t as nice as the 
home she has left." 

" Sometimes," his wife put in, rather sadly, " I 
think that it s all a mistake, and that we d be willing 
to share the privations of the man we loved." 

"Well," said Makely, with a laugh, "we wouldn t 
like to risk it." 

I laughed with him, but his wife did not, and in the 


silence that ensued there was nothing to prevent the 
Altrurian from coming in with another of his questions. 
" IIow far does this state of things extend down 
ward ? " Does it include the working-classes, too ? " 

" Oh, no ! " we all answered together, and Mrs. 
Makcly said : " With your Altrurian ideas I suppose 
you would naturally sympathize a great deal more 
with the lower classes, and think they had to endure 
all the hardships in our system ; but if you could 
realize how the struggle goes on in the best society, 
and how we all have to fight for what we get, or don t 
get, you would be disposed to pity our upper classes, 

" I am sure I should," said the Altrurian. 

Makcly remarked, " I used to hear my father say 
that slavery was harder on the whites than it was on 
the blacks, and that he wanted it done away with for 
the sake of the masters." 

Makely rather faltered in conclusion, as if he were 
not quite satisfied with his remark, and I distinctly 
felt a want of proportion in it ; but I did not wish to 
say anything. His wife had no reluctance. 

" Well, there s no comparison between the two 
things, but the struggle certainly doesn t affect the 


working classes as it does us. They go on marrying 
and giving in marriage in the old way. They have 
nothing to lose, and so they can afford it." 

" Blessed am dem what don t expect nuffin ! Oh, 
I tell you it s a working-man s country," said Makely, 
through his cigar smoke. " You ought to see them 
in town, these summer nights, in the parks and 
squares and cheap theatres. Their girls are not off 
for their health, anywhere, and their fellows are not 
off growing up with the country. Their day s work 
is over and they re going in for a good time. And, 
then, walk through the streets where they live, and 
see them out on the stoops with their wives and child 
ren ! I tell you, it s enough to make a fellow wish he 
was poor himself." 

" Yes," said Mrs. Makely, " it s astonishing how 
strong and well those women keep, with their great 
families and their hard work. Sometimes I really 
envy them." 

" Do you suppose," said the Altrurian, " that they 
are aware of the sacrifices which the ladies of the 
upper classes make in leaving all the work to them, 
and suffering from the nervous debility which seems 
to be the outcome of your society life ? " 


" They have not the remotest idea of it ! They 
have no conception of what a society woman goes 
through with. They think we do nothing. They 
envy ns, too, and sometimes they re so ungrateful and 
indifferent, if you try to help them, or get on terms 
with them, that I believe they hate us." 

" But that comes from ignorance " 

" Yes, though I don t know that they are really any 
more ignorant of us than we are of them. It s the 
other half on both sides." 

" Isn t that a pity, rather ? " 

" Of course it s a pity, but what can you do ? You 
can t know what people are like unless you live like 
them, and then the question is whether the game is 
worth the candle. I should like to know how you 
manage in Altruria." 

"Why, we have solved the problem in the only 
way, as you say, that it can be solved. We all live 

" Isn t that a little, just a very trifling little bit 
monotonous ? " Mrs. Makely asked, with a smile. 
" But there is everything, of course, in being used to 
it. To an unrcgeneratc spirit like mine, for exam 
ple it seems intolerable." 


" But why ? When you were younger, before you 
were married, you all lived at home together. Or, 
perhaps, you were an only child ? " 

" Oh, no, indeed ! There were ten of us." 
" Then you all lived alike, and shared equally ? " 
" Yes, but we were a family." 

" We do not conceive of the human race except as 
a family." 

" Now, excuse me, Mr. Homos, that is all nonsense. 
You cannot have the family feeling without love, and 
it is impossible to love other people. That talk about 
the neighbor, and all that, is all well enough" She 
stopped herself, as if she dimly remembered Who be 
gan that talk, and then went on : " Of course I accept 
it as a matter of faith, and the spirit of it, nobody 
denies that ; but what I mean is, that you must have 
frightful quarrels all the time." She tried to look as 
if this were where she really meant to bring up, and 
he took her on the ground she had chosen. 

" Yes, we have quarrels. Hadn t you at home ? " 
" We fought like little cats and dogs, at times." 
Makely and I burst into a laugh at her magnani 
mous frankness. The Altrurian remained serious. 
" But because you lived alike, you knew each other ; 


and so you easily made up your quarrels. It is quite 
as simple with us, in our life as a human family." 

This notion of a human family seemed to amuse 
Mrs. Makcly more and more ; she laughed and laughed 
again. " You must excuse me ! " she panted, at last. 
" But I cannot imagine it ! No, it is too ludicrous. 
Just fancy the jars of an ordinary family multiplied 
by the population of a whole continent ! Why, you 
must be in a perpetual squabble ! You can t have 
any peace of your lives ! It s worse, far worse, than 
our way ! " 

"But, madam," he began, "you are supposing our 
family to be made up of people with all the antago 
nistic interests of your civilization. As a matter of 

" No, no ! / know human nature, Mr. Homos ! " 
She suddenly jumped up and gave him her hand. 
" Good night ! " she said, sweetly, and as she drifted 
off on her husband s arm, she looked back at us and 
nodded in gay triumph. 

The Altrurian turned upon me with unabated in 
terest. " And have you no provision in your system 
for finally making the lower classes understand the 
sufferings and sacrifices of the upper classes in their 


behalf ? Do you expect to do nothing to bring them 
together in mutual kindness ? 

" Well, not this evening," I said, throwing the end 
of my cigar away. " I m going to bed, aren t you ? " 

" Not yet." 

" Well, good night. Are you sure you can find 
your room ? " 

" Oh, yes. Good night." 


I LEFT my guest abruptly, with a feeling of vexation 
not very easily definable. His repetition of questions 
about questions which society has so often answered, 
and always in the same way, was not so bad in him 
as it would have been in a person of our civilization ; 
he represented a wholly different state of things, the 
inversion of our own, and much could be forgiven 
him for that reason, just as in Russia much could be 
forgiven to an American, if he formulated his curiosity 
concerning imperialism from a purely republican ex 
perience. I knew that in Altruria, for instance, the 
possession of great gifts, of any kind of superiority, 
involved the sense of obligation to others, and the 
wish to identify one s self with the great mass of 


men, rather than the ambition to distinguish one s 
self from them ; and that the Altrurians honored their 
gifted men in the measure they did this. A man 
reared in such a civilization must naturally find it 
difficult to get our point of view ; with social inclu 
sion as the ideal, he could with difficulty conceive of 
our ideal of social exclusion ; but I think we had all 
been very patient witla him ; we should have made 
short work with an American who had approached us 
with the same inquiries. * Even from a foreigner, the 
citizen of a Republic founded on the notion, elsewhere 
exploded ever since Cain, that one is his brother s 
keeper, the things he asked seemed inoffensive only 
because they were puerile ; but they certainly were 
puerile. I felt that it ought to have been self-evident 
to him that when a commonwealth of sixty million 
Americans based itself upon the great principle of 
self-seeking, self-seeking was the best thing, and 
whatever hardship it seemed to work, it must carry 
with it unseen blessings in ten-fold measure. If a 
few hundred thousand favored Americans enjoyed 
the privilege of socially contemning all the rest, it 
was as clearly right and just that they should do so, 
as that four thousand American millionaires should 


be richer than all the other Americans put together. 
Such, a status, growing out of our political equality 
and our material prosperity must evince a divine 
purpose to any one intimate with the designs of pro 
vidence, and it seemed a kind of impiety to doubt its 
perfection. I excused the misgivings, which I could 
not help seeing in the Altrurian to his alien traditions, 
and I was aware that my friends had done so, too. 
But if I could judge from myself he must have left 
them all sensible of their effort ; and this was not 
pleasant. I could not blink the fact that although I 
had openly disagreed with him on every point of 
ethics and economics, I was still responsible for him 
as a guest. It was as if an English gentleman had 
introduced a blatant American democrat into tory 
society; or, rather, as if a southerner of the olden 
time had harbored a northern abolitionist, and per 
mitted him to inquire into the workings of slavery 
among his neighbors. People would tolerate him 
as my guest for a time, but there must be an end of 
their patience with the tacit enmity of his sentiments, 
and the explicit vulgarity of his ideals, and when the 
end came, I must be attainted with him. 

I did not like the notion of this, and I meant to 


escape it if I could. I confess that I would have 
willingly disowned him, as I had already disavowed 
his opinions, but there was no way of doing it short 
of telling him to go away, and I was not ready to do 
that. Something in the man, I do not know what, 
mysteriously appealed to me. He was not contempt 
ibly puerile without being lovably childlike, and I 
could only make up my mind to be more and more 
frank with him, and to try and shield him, as well as 
myself, from the effects I dreaded. 

I fell asleep planning an excursion further into the 
mountains, which should take up the rest of the week 
that I expected him to stay with me, and would 
keep him from following up his studies of American 
life where they would be so injurious to both of 
us as they must in our hotel. A knock at rny door 
roused me, and I sent a drowsy " Come in ! " towards 
it from the bed-clothes without looking that way. 

" Good morning ! " came back in the rich, gontlc 
voice of the Altrurian. I lifted my head with a jerk 
from the pillow, and saw him standing against the 
closed door, with my shoes in his hand. " Oh, I am 
sorry I waked you ! I thought " 

" Not at all, not at all ! " I said. "It s quite time, 


I dare say. But you oughtn t to have taken the 
trouble to bring my shoes in ! " 

" I wasn t altogether disinterested in it," he re 
turned. " I wished you to compliment me on them. 
Don t you think they are pretty well done, for an 
amateur ? " He came toward my bed, and turned 
them about in his hands, so that they would catch the 
light, and smiled down upon me. 

" I don t understand," I began. 

"Why," he said, " I blacked them, you know." 

" You blacked them ! " 

" Yes," he returned, easily. " I thought I would 
go into the baggage-room, after we parted last night, 
to look for a piece of mine that had not been taken 
to my room, and I found the porter there, with his 
wrist bound up. lie said he had strained it in hand 
ling a lady s Saratoga he said a Saratoga was a large 
trunk and I begged him to let me relieve him at 
the boots he was blacking. He refused, at first, but 
I insisted upon trying my hand at a pair, and then he 
let me go on with the men s boots ; he said he could 
varnish the ladies without hurting his wrist. It need 
ed less skill than I supposed, and after I had done a 
few pairs he said I could black boots as well as he." 


" Did anybody sec you ? " I gasped, and I felt a 
cold perspiration break out on me. 

" No, we had the whole midnight hour to ourselves. 
The porter s work with the baggage was all over, and 
there was nothing to interrupt the delightful chat we 
fell into. He is a very intelligent man, and he told 
me all about that custom of feeing which you depre 
cate. He says that the servants hate it as much as 
the guests ; they have to take the tips, now, because 
the landlords figure on them in the wages, and they 
cannot live without them. lie is a fine, manly 
fellow, and " 

" Mr. Homos," I broke in, with the strength I found 
in his assurance that no one had seen him helping the 
porter black boots, " I want to speak very seriously 
with you, and I hope you will not be hurt if I speak 
very plainly about a matter in which I have your 
good solely at heart/ This was not quite true, and 
I winced inwardly a little when he thanked me with 
that confounded sincerity of his, which was so much 
like irony ; but I went on : " It is my duty to you, as 
my guest, to tell you that this thing of doing for 
others is not such a simple matter here, as your pecu 
liar training leads you to think. You have been de- 


ccived by a superficial likeness ; but, really, I do not 
understand how you could have read all you have 
done about us, and not realized before coming here 
that America and Altruria are absolutely distinct and 
diverse in their actuating principles. They are both 
republics, I know ; but America is a republic where 
every man is for himself, and you cannot help others 
as you do at home ; it is dangerous it is ridiculous. 
You must keep this fact in mind, or you will fall into 
errors that will be very embarassing to you in your 
stay among us, and," I was forced to add " to all 
your friends. Now, I certainly hoped, after what I 
jiiad said to you, and what my friends had explained 
of our civilization, that you would not have done a 
thing of this kind. I will see the porter, as soon as 
II am up, and ask him not to mention the matter to 
any one. but I confess I don t like to take an apolo 
getic tone with him ; your conditions are so alien to 
jpurs that they will seem incredible to him, and he 
will think I am stuffing him." 

" I don t believe he will think that," said the Altru- 
rian, " and I hope you won t find the case so bad as 
it seems to you. I am extremely sorry to have done 
wrong " 


" Oh, the thing wasn t wrong in itself. It was only 
wrong under the circumstances. Abstractly, it is 
quite right to help a fellow-being who needs help ; no 
one denies that, even in a country where every one is 
for himself." 

" I am so glad to hear it," said the Altrurian, 
" Then at least, I have not gone radically astray ; and 
I do not think you need take the trouble to explain 
the Altrurian ideas to the porter. I have done that 
already, and they seemed quite conceivable to him ; 
he said that poor folks had to act upon them, even 
here, more or less, and that if they did not act upon 
them, there would be no chance for them at all. Ho 
says they have to help each other, very much as we 
do at home, and that it is only the rich folks among 
you who arc independent. I really don t think you 
need speak to him at all, unless you wish ; and I was 
very careful to guard my offer of help at the point 
where I understood from you and your friends that it 
might do harm. I asked him if there was not some 
one who would help him out with his bootblacking 
for money, because in that case I should be glad to 
pay him ; but he said there was no one about who 
would take the job ; that he had to agree to black the 


boots, or else lie would not have got the place of por 
ter, but that all the rest of the help would consider it 
a disgrace, and would not help him for love or money. 
So it seemed quite safe to offer him my services." 

I felt that the matter was almost hopeless, but I 
asked, " And what he said, didn t that suggest any 
thing else to you ? " 

" How, anything else ? " asked the Altrurian, in his 

" Didn t it occur to you that if none of his fellow 
servants were willing to help him black boots, and if 
he did it only because he was obliged to, it was hardly 
the sort of work for you ? " 

" Why, no," said the Altrurian, with absolute sim 
plicity. He must have perceived the despair I fell 
into at this answer, for he asked, " Why should I 
have minded doing for others what I should have been 
willing to do for myself?" 

" There are a great many things we are willing to 
do for ourselves that we are not willing to do for 
others. But even on that principle, which I think 
false and illogical, you could not be justified. A gen 
tleman is not willing to black his own boots. It is 

offensive to his feelings, to his self-respect; it is 


something he will not do if he can get anybody else 
to do it for him." 

" Then, in America," said the Altrurian, " it is not 
offensive to the feelings of a gentleman to let another 
do for him what he would not do for himself ? " 

" Certainly not." 

" Ah," he returned, " then we understand some 
thing altogether different by the word gentleman in 
Altruria. I see, now, how I have committed a 
mistake. I shall be more careful hereafter." 

I thought I had better leave the subject, and, " By 
the way," I said, " how would you like to take a little 
tramp with me to-day, farther up into the mountains ?" 

" I should be delighted," said the Altrurian, so 
gratefully, that I was ashamed to think why I was 
proposing the pleasure to him. 

" Well, then, I shall be ready to start as soon as 
we have had breakfast. I will join you down stairs 
in half an hour." 

He left me at this hint, though really I was half 
afraid he might stay and offer to lend me a hand at 
my toilet, in the expression of his national character. 
I found him with Mrs. Makely, when I went down, 
and she began, with a parenthetical tribute to the 


beauty of the mountains in the morning light, " Don t 
be surprised to see me up at this unnatural hour. I 
don t know whether it was the excitement of our talk 
last night, or what it was, but my sulfonal wouldn t 
act, though I took fifteen grains, and I was up with 
the lark, or should have been, if there had been any 
lark outside of literature to be up with. However, 
this air is so glorious that I don t mind losing a 
night s sleep, now and then. I believe that with a 
little practice one could get along without any sleep 
at all, here ; at least / could. I m sorry to say, poor 
Mr. Makely can t, apparently. He s making up for 
his share of my vigils, and I m going to breakfast 
without him. Do you know, I ve done a very bold 
thing : I ve got the head waiter to give you places at 
our table ; I know you ll hate it, Mr. Twelvemough, 
because you naturally want to keep Mr. Homos to 
yourself, and I don t blame you at all ; but I m simply 
not going to let you, and that s all there is about it." 
The pleasure I felt at this announcement was not 
unmixed, but I tried to keep Mrs. Makely from think 
ing so, and I was immensely relieved when she found 
a chance to say to me in a low voice, " I know just 
how you re feeling, Mr. Twelvemough, and I m going 


to help you keep him from doing anything ridiculous, 
if I can. I like him, and I think it s a perfect shame 
to have people laughing at him. I know we can 
manage him between us." 

We so far failed, however, that the Altrurian shook 
hands with the head waiter, when he pressed open 
the wire netting door to let us into the dining-room, 
and made a bow to our waitress of the sort one makes 
to a lady. But we thought it best to ignore these 
little errors of his, and reserve our moral strength for 
anything more spectacular. Fortunately we got 
through our breakfast with nothing worse than his 
jumping up, and stooping to hand the waitress a 
spoon she let fall ; but this could easily pass for 
some attention to Mrs. Makely at a little distance. 
There were not many people down to breakfast, yet ; 
but I could see that there was a good deal of subdued 
sensation among the waitresses, standing with folded 
arms behind their tables, and that the head waiter s 
handsome face was red with anxiety. 

Mrs. Makely asked if we were going to church. 
She said she was driving that way and would be glad 
to drop us. " I m not going myself," she explained, 
" because I couldn t make anything of the sermon, 


with my head in the state it is, and I m going to com 
promise on a good action. I want to carry some 
books and papers over to Mrs. Camp. Don t you 
think that will be quite as acceptable, Mr. Homos ? " 

" I should venture to hope it," he said, with a 
tolerant seriousness not altogether out of keeping with 
her lightness. 

" Who is Mrs. Camp ? " I asked, not caring to 
commit myself on the question. 

" Lizzie s mother. You know I told you about 
them last night. I think she must have got through 
the books I lent her, and I know Lizzie didn t like to 
ask me for more, because she saw me talking with 
you and didn t want to interrupt us. Such a nice 
girl ! I think the Sunday papers must have come, 
and I ll take them over, too ; Mrs. Camp is always so 
glad to get them, and she is so delightful when she 
gets going about public events. But perhaps you 
don t approve of Sunday papers, Mr, Homos." 

" I m sure I don t know, madam. I haven t seen 
them yet. You know this is the first Sunday I ve 
been in America." 

" Well, I m sorry to say you won t sec the old 
Puritan Sabbath," said Mrs. Makely, with an abrupt 


deflection from the question of the Sunday papers. 
" Though you ought to, up in these hills. The only 
thing left of it is rye-and-Indian bread, and these 
baked beans and fish-balls." 

" But they are very good ? " 

" Yes, I dare say they are not the worst of it." 

She was a woman who tended to levity, and I was 
a little afraid she might be going to say something 
irreverent, but if she were, she was forestalled by the 
Altrurian asking, " Would it be very indiscreet, 
madam, if I were to ask you some time to introduce 
me to that family ? " 

"The Camps?" she returned. "Not at all. I 
should be perfectly delighted." The thought seemed 
to strike her, and she asked, " Why not go with me 
this morning, unless you are inflexibly bent on going 
to church, you and Mr. Twelvemough ? " 

The Altrurian glanced at me, and I said I should 
be only too glad, if I could carry some books, so that 
I could compromise on a good action, too. " Take 
one of your own," she instantly suggested. 

" Do you think they wouldn t be too severe upon 
it?" I asked. 

" Well, Mrs. Camp might," Mrs. Makely consented, 


with a smile. "She goes in for rather serious fiction; 
but I think Lizzie would enjoy a good, old-fashioned 
love-story, where everybody got married, as they do 
in your charming books." 

I winced a little, for every one likes to be regarded 
seriously, and I did not enjoy being remanded to the 
young-girl public ; but I put a bold face on it, and 
said, " My good action shall be done in behalf of 
Miss Lizzie." 

Half an hour later, Mrs. Makely having left word 
with the clerk where we were gone, so that her hus 
band need not be alarmed when he got up, we were 
striking into the hills on a two seated buckboard, with 
one of the best teams of our hotel, and one of the 
most taciturn drivers. Mrs. Makely had the Altru- 
rian get into the back seat with her, and, after some 
attempts to make talk with the driver, I leaned over 
and joined in their talk. The Altrurian was greatly 
interested, not so much in the landscape though he 
owned its beauty, when we cried out over it from 
point to point but in the human incidents and fea 
tures. He noticed the cattle in the fields, and the 
horses we met on the road, and the taste and comfort 
of the buildings, the variety of the crops, and the 


promise of the harvest. I was glad of the respite his 
questions gave me from the study of the intimate 
character of our civilization, for they were directed 
now at these more material facts, and I willingly joined 
Mrs. Makely in answering them. We explained that 
the finest teams we met were from the different hotels 
or boarding-houses, or at least from the farms where 
the people took city people to board ; and that certain 
shabby equipages belonged to the natives who lived 
solely by cultivating the soil. There was not very 
much of the soil cultivated, for the chief crop was 
hay, with here and there a patch of potatoes or beans, 
and a few acres in sweet-corn. The houses of the na 
tives, when they were for their use only, were no better 
than their turnouts ; it was where the city boarder had 
found shelter that they were modern and pleasant. 
Now and then we came to a deserted homestead, and 
I tried to make the Altrurian understand how farming 
in New England had yielded to the competition of the 
immense agricultural operations of the west. " You 
know," I said, "that agriculture is really an operation 
out there, as much as coal-mining is in Pennsylvania, 
or finance in Wall street ; you have no idea of the vast- 
ness of the scale." Perhaps I swelled a little with 


pride in my celebration of the national prosperity, as 
it flowed from our western farms of five, and ten, and 
twenty thousand acres ; I could not very well help put 
ting on the pedal in these passages. Mrs. Makely 
listened almost as eagerly as the Altrurian, for, as a 
cultivated American woman, she was necessarily quite 
ignorant of her own country, geographically, politically 
and historically. " The only people left in the hill 
country of New England," I concluded, " are those 
who are too old or too lazy to get away. Any young 
man of energy would be ashamed to stay, unless he 
wanted to keep a boarding-house or live on the city 
vacationists in summer. If he doesn t, he goes west 
and takes up some of the new land, and comes back 
in middle-life, and buys a deserted farm to spend his 
summers on." 

" Dear me ! " said the Altrurian, " Is it so simple 
as that ? Then we can hardly wonder at their owners 
leaving these worn-out farms ; though I suppose it 
must be with the pang of exile, sometimes." 

" Oh, I fancy there isn t much sentiment involved/ 
I answered, lightly. 

" Whoa ! " said Mrs. Makely, speaking to the 
horses, before she spoke to the driver, as some women 


will. He pulled them up, and looked round at her. 

" Isn t that Reuben Camp, now, over there by that 
house ? " she asked, as if we had been talking of him; 
that is another way some women have. 

" Yes, ma am," said the driver. 

" Oh, well, then ! " and " Reuben ! " she called to 
the young man, who was prowling about the door- 
yard of a sad-colored old farmhouse, and peering into 
a window here and there. " Come here a moment 
won t you, please ? " 

He lifted his head and looked round, and when he 
had located the appeal made to him, he came down 
the walk to the gate and leaned over it, waiting for 
further instructions. I saw that it was the young 
man whom we had noticed with the girl Mrs. Makely 
called Lizzie, on the hotel piazza, the night before. 

"Do you know whether I should find Lizzie at 
home, this morning ? " 

" Yes, she s there with mother," said the young 
fellow, with neither liking nor disliking in his tone. 

" Oh, I m so glad ! " said the lady. " I didn t know 
but she might be at church. What in the world has 
happened here ? Is there anything unusual going on 
inside ? " 


" No, I was just looking to see if it was all right. 
The folks wanted I should come round." 

" Why, where are they ? " 

" Oh, they re gone." 


" Yes ; gone west. They ve left the old place, be 
cause they couldn t make a living here, any longer." 

" Why, this is quite a case in point," I said. 
" Now, Mr. Homos, here is a chance to inform your 
self at first hand about a very interesting fact of our 
civilization ; " and I added, in a low voice, to Mrs. 
Makely, " Won t you introduce us ? " 

" Oh, yes ! Mr. Camp, this is Mr. Twelvemough, 
the author you know his books, of course ; and Mr. 
Homos, a gentleman from Altruria." 

The young fellow opened the gate he leaned on, 
and came out to us. He took no notice of me, but 
he seized the Altrttrian s hand and wrung it. " I ve 
heard of you," he said. " Mrs. Makely, were you go 
ing to our place ? " 

" Why, yes." 

" So do, then ! Mother would give almost anything 
to see Mr. Homos. We ve heard of Altruria, over 
our way," he added, to our friend. " Mother s been 


reading up all she can about it. She ll want to talk 
with you, and she won t give the rest of us much of a 
chance, I guess." 

" Oh, I shall be glad to see her," said the Altrurian, 
" and to tell her everything I can. But won t you 
explain to me first something about your deserted 
farms here? It s quite a new thing to me." 

" It isn t a new thing to us," said the young fellow, 
with a short laugh. "And there isn t much to ex 
plain about it. You ll see them all through New 
England. When a man finds he can t get his fu 
neral expenses out of the land, he don t feel like 
staying to be buried in it, and he pulls up and goes." 

" But people used to get their living expenses 
here," I suggested. " Why can t they now ? " 

"Well, they didn t use to have western prices to 
fight with ; and then the land wasn t wornout so, and 
the taxes were not so heavy. How would you like to 
pay twenty to thirty dollars on the thousand, and as 
sessed up to the last notch, in the city ? " 

" Why, what in the world makes your taxes so 
heavy ? " 

" Schools and roads. We ve got to have schools, 
and you city folks want good roads when you come 


here in the summer, don t you? Then the season is 
short and sometimes we can t make a crop. The frost 
catches the corn in the field, and you have your 
trouble for your pains. Potatoes are the only thing 
we can count on, except grass, and when everybody 
raises potatoes, you know where the price goes"."" 1 

" Oh, but now, Mr. Camp," said Mrs. Makely, lean 
ing over towards him, and speaking in a cosy and 
coaxing tone, as if he must not really keep the truth 
from an old friend like her, "isn t it a good deal be 
cause the farmers daughters want pianos, and the 
farmers sons want buggies? I heard Professor 
Lumen saying, the other day, that if the farmers were 
willing to work, as they used to work, they could still 
get a good living off their farms, and that they gave 
up their places because they were too lazy, in many 
cases, to farm them properly." 

" He d better not let me hear him saying that," 
said the young fellow, while a hot flush passed over 
his face. He added, bitterly, " If he wants to see 
how easy it is to make a living up here, he can take 
this place and try, for a year or two ; he can get it 
cheap. But I guess he wouldn t want it the year 
round ; he d only want it a few months in the sum- 


mer,- when lie could enjoy the sightliness of it, and 
see me working over there on my farm, while he 
smoked on his front porch." He turned round and 
looked at the old house, in silence a moment. Then, 
as he went on, his voice lost its angry ring. " The 
folks here bought this place from the Indians, and 
they d been here more than two hundred years. Do 
you think they left it because they were too lazy to 
run it, or couldn t get pianos and buggies out of it, 
or were such fools as not to know whether they were 
well off? It was > ^eir home; they were born, and 
lived and died Iv .,. There is the family burying 
ground, over there." 

Neither Mrs, Makely nor myself was ready with a 
reply, and we left the word with the Altrurian, who 
suggested, " Still, I suppose they will be more pros 
perous in the west, on the new land they take up ? " 

The young fellow leaned his arms on the wheel by 
which he stood. " What do you mean by taking up 
new land ? " 

" Why, out of the public domain " 

" There ain t any public domain that s worth hav 
ing. All the good land is in the hands of railroads, 
and farm syndicates, and speculators ; and if you want 


a farm in the west you ve got to buy it ; the east is 
the only place where folks give them away, because 
they ain t worth keeping. If you haven t got the 
ready money, you can buy one on credit, and pay ten 
twenty and thirty per cent, interest, and live in a dug 
out on the plains till your mortgage matures." The 
young man took his arms from the wheel and moved 
a few steps backward, as he added, " I ll see you over 
at the house later." 

The driver touched his horses, and we started 
briskly off again. But I confess I had quite enough 
of his pessimism, and as we drove away I leaned back 
toward the Altrurian, and said, " Now, it is all per 
fect nonsense to pretend that things are at that pass 
with us. There are more millionaires in America, 
probably, than there are in all the other civilized 
countries of the globe, and it is not possible that the 
farming population should be in such a hopeless con 
dition. " All wealth comes out of the earth, and you 
may be sure they get their full share of it." 

"I am glad to hear you say so," said the Altrurian, 
" What is the meaning of this new party in the west 
that seems to have held a convention lately ? I read 
something of it in the train yesterday." 


" Oh, that is a lot of crazy Hayseeds, who don t 
want to pay back the money they have borrowed, or 
who find themselves unable to meet their interest. It 
will soon blow over. We are always having these 
political flurries. A good crop will make it all right 
with them." 

, " But is it true that they have to pay such rates of 
interest as our young friend mentioned? " 

" Well," I said, seeing the thing in the humorous 
light, which softens for us Americans so many of the 
hardships of others, " I suppose that man likes to 
squeeze his brother man, when he gets him in his 
grip. That s human nature, you knew." 

" Is it ? " asked the Altrurian. 

It seemed to me that he had asked something like 
that before when I alleged human nature in defense 
of some piece of everyday selfishness. But I thought 
best not to notice it, and I went on : " The land is so 
rich out there that a farm will often pay for itself 
with a single crop." 

"Is it possible?" cried the Altrurian. "Then I 
suppose it seldom really happens that a mortgage is 
foreclosed, in the way our young friend insinuated ? " 

" Well, I can t say that exactly," and having ad- 


mitted so much, I did not feel bound to impart a fact 
that popped perversely into my mind. I was once 
talking with a western money-lender, a very good 
sort of fellow, frank and open as the day ; I asked 
him whether the farmers generally paid off their 
mortages, and he answered me that if the mortgag 
was to the value of a fourth of the land, the farme* 
might pay it off, I "t if it were to a half or a third 
even, he never paid . , but slaved on and died in his 
debts. "You may be sure, however," I concluded, 
" that our young friend takes a jaundiced view of the 

" Now, really," said Mrs. Makely, " I must insist 
upon dropping this everlasting talk about money. I 
think it is perfectly disgusting, and I believe it was 
Mr. Makely s account of his speculations that kept me 
awake last night. My brain got running on figures 
till the dark seemed to be all sown with dollar marks, 
like the stars in the milky way. I ugh ! What in 
the world is it ? Oh, you dreadful little things ! " 

Mrs. Makely passed swiftly from terror to hysteri 
cal laughter as the driver pulled up short, and a group 
of bare-footed children broke in front of his horses, 

and scuttled out of the dust into the roadside bushes 


like a covey of quails. There seemed to be a dozen 
of them, nearly all the same in size, but there turned 
out to be only five or six ; or at least no more showed 
their gleaming eyes and teeth through the underbrush 
in quiet enjoyment of the lady s alarm. 

" Don t you know that you might have got killed ?" 
she demanded with that severity good women feel for 
people who have just escaped with their lives. " How 
lovely the dirty little dears are ! " she added, in the 
next wave of emotion. One bold fellow of six showed 
a half length above the bushes, and she asked, " Don t 
you know that you oughn t to play in the road when 
there arc so many teams passing ? Arc all those your 
brothers and sisters ? " 

He ignored the first question. " One s my cousin." 
I pulled out a half-dozen coppers, and held my hand 
toward him. " See if there is one for each." They 
had no difficulty in solving the simple mathematical 
problem except the smallest girl, who cried for fear 
and baffled longing. I tossed the coin to her, and a 
little fat dog darted out at her feet and caught it up 
in his mouth. " Oh, good gracious ! " I called out in 
my light, humorous way. " Do you suppose he s 
going to spend it for candy?" The little people 


thought that a famous joke, and they laughed with 
the gratitude that even small favors inspire. " Bring 
your sister here," I said to the boldest boy, and when 
he came up with the little woman, I put another 
copper into her hand. " Look out that the greedy 
dog doesn t get it," I said, and my gaiety met with 
fresh applause. "Where do you live?" I asked with 
some vague purpose of showing the Altrurian the 
kindliness that exists between our upper and lower 

" Over there," said the boy. I followed the twist 
of his head, and glimpsed a wooden cottage on the bor 
der of the forest, so very new that the sheathing had 
not yet been covered with clapboards. I stood up in 
the buckboard and saw that it was a story and a half 
high, and could have had four or five rooms in it. The 
bare, curtainless windows were set in the unpainted 
frames, but the front door seemed not to be hung 
yet. The people meant to winter there, however, for 
the sod was banked up against the wooden underpin 
ning ; a stove-pipe stuck out of the roof of a little 
wing behind. While I gazed, a young-looking woman 
came to the door, as if she had been drawn by our 
talk with the children, and then she jumped down 


from the threshhold, which still wanted a doorstep, 
and came slowly out to us. The children ran to her 
with their coppers, and then followed her back to us. 

Mrs. Makely called to her before she reached us, 
" I hope you weren t frightened. We didn t drive 
over any of them." 

" Oh, I wasn t frightened," said the young woman. 
" It s a very safe place to bring up children, in the 
country, and I never feel uneasy about them." 

" Yes, if they are not under the horses feet," said 
Mrs. Makely, mingling instruction and amusement 
very judiciously in her reply. " Are they all yours ?" 

" Only five," said the mother, and she pointed to 
the alien in her flock. " He s my sisters s. She lives 
just below here." Her children had grouped them 
selves about her, and she kept passing her hands 
caressingly over their little heads as she talked. " My 
sister has nine children, but she has the rest at church 
with her today." 

" You don t speak like an American," Mrs. Makely 

" No, we re English. Our husbands work in the 
quarry. That s my little palace." The woman 
nodded her head toward the cottage. 


"It s going to be very nice," said Mrs. Makely, 
with an evident perception of her pride in it. 

Yes, if we ever get money to finish it. Thank 
you for the children ! " 

" Oh, it was this gentleman." Mrs. Makely indi 
cated me, and I bore the merit of my good action as 
modestly as I could. 

" Then, thank yo?f, sir," said the young woman, and 
she asked Mrs. Makely, " You re not living about 
here, ma am ? " 

" Oh, no, we re staying at the hotel." 

" At the hotel ! It must be very dear, there." 

" Yes, it is expensive," said Mrs. Makely, with a 
note of that satisfaction in her voice which w r e all 
feel in spending a great deal of money. 

" But I suppose you can afford it," said the woman, 
whose eye was running hungrily over Mrs. Makely s 
pretty costume. " Some are poor, and some are rich. 
That s the way the world has to be made up, isn t it ?" 

" Yes," said Mrs. Makely, very dryly, and the talk 
languished from this point, so that the driver felt 
warranted in starting up his horses. When we had 
driven beyond earshot she said, " I knew she was not 
an American, as soon as she spoke, by her accent, and 


then those foreigners have no self-respect. That was 
a pretty bold bid for a contribution to finish up her 
little palace ! I m glad yon didn t give her any 
thing, Mr. Twelvemough. I was afraid your sympa 
thies had been wrought upon." 

" Oh, not at all ! " I answered. " I saw the mischief 
I had done with the children." 

The Altrurian, who had not asked anything for a 
long time, but had listened with eager interest to all 
that passed, now came up smiling with his question : 
"Will you kindly tell me what harm would have been 
done by offering the woman a little money to lielj: 
finish up her cottage ? " 

I did not allow Mrs. Makely to answer, I was so c, 
ger to air my political economy. "The very greatest 
harm. It would have pauperized her. You have nr 
idea how quickly they give way to the poison of that 
sort of thing. As soon as they get any sort of help 
they expect more ; they count upon it, and they begin 
to live upon it. The sight of those coppers which I 
gave her children more out of joke than charity 
demoralized the woman. She took us for rich people, 
and wanted us to build her a house. You have to 
guard against every approach to a thing of that sort." 


" I don t believe," said Mrs. Makely, " that an 
American would have hinted, as she did." 

" No, an American would not have done that, I m 
thankful to say. They take fees, but they don t ask 
charity, yet." We went on to exult in the noble in 
dependence of the American character in all classes, 
at some length. We talked at the Altrurian, but he 
did not seem to hear us. At last, he asked with a 
faint sigh, " Then, in your conditions, a kindly im 
pulse to aid one who needs your help, is something to 
be guarded against as possibly pernicious ? " 

" Exactly," I said. " And now you see what diffi 
culties beset us in dealing with the problem of poverty. 
We cannot let people suffer, for that would be cruel ; 
and we cannot relieve their need without pauperizing 

"I see," he answered. " It is a terrible quandary." 

" I wish," said Mrs. Makely, " that you would tell 
us just how you manage with the poor in Altruria." 

" We have none," he replied. 

" But the comparatively poor you have some peo 
ple who are richer than others ? " 

" No. AVe should regard that as the worst in- 


" What is incivism ? " 

I interpreted, " Bad citizenship." 

" Well then, if you will excuse me, Mr. Homos," 
she said, " I think that is simply impossible. There 
must be rich and there must be poor. There always 
have been, and there always will be. That woman 
said it as well as anybody. Didn t Christ himself 
say, * The poor ye have always with you \ " 


THE Altrurian looked at Mrs. Makcly with an 
amazement visibly heightened by the air of compla 
cency she put on after delivering this poser : " Do you 
really think Christ meant that you ought always to 
have the poor with you ? " he asked. 

" Why, of course ! " she answered triumphantly. 
" How else arc the sympathies of the rich to be culti 
vated ? The poverty of some and the wealth of 
others, isn t that what forms the great tie of human 
brotherhood? If we were all comfortable, or all 
shared alike, there could not be anything like charity, 
and Paul said the greatest of these is charity. I 
believe it s love in the new version, but it comes to 
the same thing." 

The Altrurian gave a kind of gasp and then lapsed 


into a silence that lasted until we came in sight of 
the Camp farmhouse. It stood on the crest of a road 
side upland, and looked down the beautiful valley, 
bathed in Sabbath sunlight, and away to the ranges 
of hills, so far that it was hard to say whether it was 
sun or shadow that dimmed their distance. Decidedly, 
the place was what the country people call sightly. 
The old house, once painted a Brandon red, crouched 
low to the ground, with its lean-to in the rear, and its 
flat-arched wood-sheds and wagon-houses, stretching 
away at the side to the barn, and covering the 
approach to it with an unbroken roof. There were 
flowers in the beds along the under-pinning of the 
house, which stood close to the street, and on one 
side of the door was a clump of Spanish willow ; an 
old-fashioned June rose climbed over it from the 
other. An aged dog got stiffly to his feet from the 
threshold stone, and whimpered, as our buckboard 
drew up ; the poultry picking about the path and 
among the chips, lazily made way for us, and as our 
wheels ceased to crunch upon the gravel, we heard 
hasty steps, and Reuben Camp came round the corner 
of the house in time to give Mrs. Makely his hand, 
and help her spring to the ground, which she did very 


lightly ; her remarkable mind had kept her body in a 
sort of sympathetic activity, and at thirty-five she had 
the gracilc ease and self-command of a girl. 

" Ah, Reuben," she sighed, permitting herself to 
call him by his first name, with the emotion which 
expressed itself more definitely in the words that fol 
lowed, " how I envy you all this dear old, home-like 
place ! I never come here without thinking of my 
grandfather s farm in Massachusetts, where I used to 
go every summer when I was a little girl. If I had a 
place like this, I should never leave it." 

" Well, Mrs. Makely," said young Camp, "you can 
have this place cheap, if you really want it. Or 
almost any other place in the neighborhood." 

"Don t say such a thing!" she returned. "It 
makes one feel as if the foundations of the great deep 
were giving way. I don t know what that means, 
exactly, but I suppose it s equivalent to mislaying 
George s hatchet, and going back on the Declaration 
generally; and I don t like to hear you talk so." 

Camp seemed to have lost his bitter mood, and he 
answered pleasantly, " The Declaration is all right, as 
far as it goes, but it don t help us to compete with 
the western farm operations." 


" Why, you believe every one was born free and 
equal, don t you ? " Mrs. Makcly asked. 

" Oh, yes, I believe that; but" 

" Then why do you object to free and equal com 
petition ? " 

The young fellow laughed, and said, as he opened 
the door for us : " Walk right into the parlor, please. 
Mother will be ready for you in a minute." He 
added, " I guess she s putting on her best cap, for 
you, Mr. Homos. It s a great event for her, your 
coming here. It is for all of us. We re glad to 
have you." 

"And I m glad to be here," said the Altrurian, as 
simply as the ojbher. He looked about the best room 
of a farm-house that had never adapted itself to the 
tastes or needs of the city boarder, and was as stiffly 
repcllant in its upholstery, and as severe in its deco 
ration as haircloth chairs and dark brown wall-paper 
of a trellis-pattern, with drab roses, could make it. 
The windows were shut tight, and our host did not 
offer to open them. A fly or two crossed the door 
way into the hall, but made no attempt to penetrate 
the interior, where we sat in an obscurity that left the 
high-hung family photographs on the walls vague and 


uncertain. I made a mental note of it as a place 
where it would be very charactistic to Lave a rustic 
funeral take place ; and I was pleased to have Mrs. 
Makely drop into a sort of mortuary murmur, as she 
said: " I hope your mother is as well as usual, this 
morning ? " I perceived that this murmur was pro 
duced by the sepulchral influence of the room. 

"Oh, yes," said Camp, and at that moment a door 
opened from the room across the hall, and his sister 
seemed to bring in some of the light from it to us, 
where we sat. She shook hands with Mrs. Makely, 
who introduced me to her, and then presented the 
Altrurian. She bowed very civilly to me, but with a 
touch of severity, such as country people find neces 
sary for the assertion of their self-respect with strang 
ers. I thought it very pretty, and instantly saw that 
I could work it into some picture of character ; and I 
was not at all sorry that she made a difference in 
favor of the Altrurian. 

"Mother will be so glad to see you," she said to 
him, and, " Won t you come right in ? " she added to 
us all. 

We followed her and found ourselves in a large, 
low, sunny room on the southeast corner of the house, 


which had no doubt once been the living room, but 
which was now given up to the bed-ridden invalid ; a 
door opened into the kitchen behind, where the table 
was already laid for the midday meal, with the plates 
turned down in the country fashion, and some netting 
drawn over the dishes to keep the flies away. 

Mrs. Makely bustled up to the bedside with her 
energetic, patronizing cheerfulness. " Ah, Mrs. 
Camp, I am glad to sec you looking so well this 
morning. I ve been meaning to run over for several 
days past, but I couldn t find a moment till this morn 
ing, and I knew you didn t object to Sunday visits." 
She* took the invalid s hand in hers, and with the air 
of showing how little she felt any inequality between 
them, she leaned over and kissed her, where Mrs. 
Camp sat propped against her pillows. She had a 
large, nobly-moulded face of rather masculine contour, 
and at the same time the most motherly look in the 
world. Mrs. Makely bubbled and babbled on, and 
every one waited patiently till she had done, and 
turned and said, toward the Altrurian, " I have ven 
tured to bring my friend, Mr. Homos, with me. He 
is from Altruria." Then she turned to me, and said, 
"Mr. Twelvcmough, you know already through his 


delightful books ; " but although she paid me this 
perfunctory compliment, it was perfectly apparent to 
me that in the esteem of this disingenuous woman the 
distinguished stranger was a far more important per 
son than the distinguished author. Whether Mrs. 
Camp read my perception of this fact in my face or 
not, I cannot say, but she was evidently determined 
that I should not feel a difference in her. She held 
out her hand to me first, and said that I never could 
know how many heavy hours I had helped to lighten 
for her, and then she turned to the Altrurian, and 
took his hand. " Oh ! " she said, with a long, deep, 
drawn sigh, as if that were the supreme moment of 
her life. " And are you really from Altruria ? It 
seems too good to be true ! " Her devout look and 
her earnest tone gave the commonplace words a quality 
that did not inhere in them, but Mrs. Makcly took 
them on their surface. 

"Yes, doesn t it?" she made haste to interpose, 
before the Altrurian could say anything. " That is 
just the way we all feel about it, Mrs. Camp. I 
assure you, if it were not for the accounts in the 
papers, and the talk about it everywhere, I couldn t 
believe there was any such place as Altruria; and if it 


were not for Mr. Twelvemough here who lias to keep 
all his inventions for his novels, as a mere matter of 
business routine, I might really suspect him and Mr. 
Homos of well, ivorkiny us, as my husband calls it." 
The Altrurian smiled politely, but vaguely, as if he 
had not quite caught her meaning, and I made answer 
for both : " I am sure, Mrs. Makely, if you could un 
derstand my peculiar state of mind about Mr. Homos, 
you would never believe that I was in collusion with 
him. I find him quite as incredible as you do. There 
are moments when he seems so entirely subjective 
with me, that I feel as if he were no more definite or 
tangible than a bad conscience." 

" Exactly ! " said Mrs. Makely, and she laughed out 
her delight in my illustration. 

The Altrurian must have perceived that we were 
joking, though the Camps all remained soberly silent. 
" I hope it isn t so bad as that," he said, " though I 
have noticed that I seem to affect you all with a kind 
of misgiving. I don t know just what it is ; but if I 
could remove it, I should be very glad to do so." 

Mrs. Makely very promptly seized her chance : 
" Well, then, in the first place, my husband and I 
were talking it over last night, after we left you, and 


that was one of the things that kept us awake ; it 
turned into money afterward. It isn t so much that a 
whole continent, as big as Australia, remained undis- 
coved till within such a very few years, as it is the 
condition of things among you : this sort of all living 
for one another, and not each one for himself. My 
husband says that is simply moonshine ; such a thing 
never was and never can be ; it is opposed to human 
nature, and would take away incentive, and all motive 
for exertion and advancement and enterprise. I don t 
know what he didn t say against it ; but one thing : 
he says it s perfectly un-American." The Altrurian re 
mained silent, gravely smiling, and Mrs. Makcly added 
with her most engaging little manner : " I hope you 
won t feel hurt, personally or patriotically, by what 
I ve repeated to you. I know my husband is awfully 
Philistine, though he is such a good fellow, and I 
don t, by any means, agree with him on all those 
points ; but I would like to know what you think of 
them. The trouble is, Mrs. Camp," she said, turning 
to the invalid, " that Mr. Homos is so dreadfully re 
ticent about his own country, and I am so curious to 
hear of it at first hands, that I consider it justifiable 
to use any means to make him open up about it." 


"There is no offense," the Altrurian answered for 
himself, " in what Mr. Makely says, though, from the 
Altrurian point of view, there is a good deal of error. 
Docs it seem so strange to you," he asked, addressing 
himself to Mrs. Camp, " that people should found a 
civilization on the idea of living for one another, in 
stead of each for himself ? " 

" No, indeed ! " she answered. " Poor people have 
always had to live that way, or they could not have 
lived at all." 

" That was what I understood your porter to say 
last night," said the Altrurian to me. He added, to 
the company generally : " I suppose that even in 
America there are more poor people than there arc 
rich people ? " 

"Well, I don t know about that," I said. " I sup 
pose there are more people independently rich than 
there are people independently poor." 

" We will let that formulation of it stand. If it 
is true, I do not sec why the Altrurian system should 
be considered so very un-American. Then, as to 
whether there is or ever was really a practical altruism, 
a civic expression of it, I think it cannot be denied 
that among the first Christians, those who immediately 


followed Christ, and might be supposed to l>c directly 
influenced by his life, there was an altruism practiced 
as radical as that which we have organized into a 
national polity and a working economy in Altruria." 

" Ah, but you know," said Mrs. Makely, with the 
air of advancing a point not to be put aside, " they 
had to drop that. It was a dead failure. They found 
that they couldn t make it go at all, among cultivated 
people, and that, if Christianity was to advance, they 
would have to give up all that crankish kind of idol 
atry of the mere letter. At any rate," she went on, 
with the satisfaction we all feel in getting an opponent 
into close quarters, "you must confess that there is a 
much greater play of individuality here." 

Before the Altrurian could reply, young Camp said: 
u If you want to sec American individuality, the real, 
simon-pure article, you ought to go down to one of 
our big factory towns, and look at the mill-hands 
coming home in droves after a day s work, young 
girls and old women, boys and men, all fluffed over 
with cotton, and so dead-tired that they can hardly 
walk. They come shambling along with all the in 
dividuality of a flock of sheep." 
" Some," said Mrs. Makely, heroically, as if she 


were one of these, " must be sacrificed. Of course, 
some are not so individual as others. A great deal 
depends upon temperament." 

" A great deal more depends upon capital," said 
Camp, with an offensive laugh. " If you have capital 
in America, you can have individuality ; if you haven t, 
you can t." 

His sister, who had not taken part in the talk be 
fore, said, demurely : " It seems to me you ve got a 
good deal of individuality, Reub, and you haven t got 
a great deal of capital, either," and the two young- 
people laughed together. 

Mrs. Makely was one of those fatuous women whose 
eagerness to make a point, excludes the consideration 
even of their own advantage. " I m sure," she said, as 
if speaking for the upper classes, " we haven t got any 
individually at all. AVe arc as like as so many peas, 
or pins. In fact, you have to be so, in society. If you 
keep asserting your own individuality too much, people 
avoid you. It s very vulgar, and the greatest bore." 

"Then you don t find individuality so desirable, 
after all," said the Altrurian. 

" I perfectly detest it ! " cried the lady, and evi 
dently she had not the least notion where she was in 


the argument. " For my part, I m never happy, 
except when I ve forgotten myself and the whole 
individual bother." 

Her declaration seemed somehow to close the in 
cident, and we were all silent a moment, which I 
employed in looking about the room, and taking in 
with my literary sense, the simplicity and even bare 
ness of its furnishing. There was the bed where the 
invalid lay, and near the head, a table with a pile of 
books and a kerosene lamp on it, and I decided that 
she was a good deal wakeful, and that she read by 
that lamp, when she could not sleep at night. Then 
there were the hard chairs we sat on, and some home 
made hooked rugs, in rounds and ovals, scattered 
about the clean floor; there was a small melodeon 
pushed against the wall ; the windows had paper 
shades, and I recalled that I had not seen any blinds 
on the outside of the house. Over the head of the 
bed hung a cavalryman s sword, with its belt; the 
sword that Mrs. Makely had spoken of. It struck me 
as a room where a great many things might have hap 
pened, and I said : " You can t think, Mrs. Camp, how 
glad I am to see the inside of your house. It seems 
to me so typical." 


A pleased intelligence showed itself in her face, 
and she answered : " Yes, it is a real old-fashioned 
farmhouse. We have never taken boarders and so 
we have kept it as it was built, pretty much, and only 
made such changes in it as we needed or wanted for 

" It s a pity, " I went on, following up what I 
thought a fortunate lead, " that we city people see so 
little of the fanning life, when we conic into the 
country. I have been here now for several seasons, 
and this is the first time I have been inside a farmer s 

" Is it possible ! " cried the Altrurian, with an air 
of utter astonishment ; and when I found the fact 
appeared so singular to him, I began to be rather 
proud of its singularity. 

11 Yes, I suppose that most city people come and 
go, year after year, in the country, and never make 
any sort of acquaintance with the people who live 
there the year round. We keep to ourselves, in the 
hotels, or if we go out at all, it is to make a call upon 
some city cottager, and so we do not get out of the 
vicious circle of our own over-intimacy with ourselves, 
and our ignorance of others." 


" And you regard that as a great misfortune ? " 
asked the Altrurian. 

" Why, it s inevitable. There is nothing to bring 
us together, unless it s some happy accident, like the 
present. But we don t have a traveler from Altruria 
to exploit every day, and so we have no business to 
come into people s houses." 

u You would have been welcome in ours, long ago, 
Mr. Twelvemough," said Mrs. Camp. 

" But, excuse me ! " said the Altrurian. " What 
you say really seems dreadful to me. Why, it is as 
if you were not the same race, or kind of men ! " 

" Yes," I answered. " It has sometimes seemed 
to me as if our big hotel there were a ship, anchored 
off some strange coast. The inhabitants come out 
with supplies, and carry on their barter with the ship s 
steward, and we sometimes sec them over the side, 
but we never speak to them, or have anything to do 
with them. We sail away at the close of the season, 
and that is the end of it till next summer." 

The Altrurian turned to Mrs. Camp. "And how 
do you look fit it ? How does it seem to you ? " 

"I don t believe we have thought about it very 
much ; but now that Mr. Twelvemough has spoken of 


it, I can see that it does look that way. And it seems 
very strange, doesn t it, for we arc all the same people, 
and have the same language, and religion and country 
the country that my husband fought for, and I sup 
pose I may say, died for ; he was never the same man 
after the war. It does appear as if we had some in 
terests in common, and might find it out if we ever 
came together." 

" It s a great advantage, the city people going into 
the country so much as they do now," said Mrs. 
Makcly. " They bring five million dollars into the 
state of New Hampshire, alone, every summer." 

She looked round for the general approval which 
this fact merited, and young Camp said : " And it 
shows how worthless the natives arc, that they can t 
make both ends meet, with all that money, but have 
to give up their farms and go west, after all. I sup 
pose you think it comes from wanting buggies and 

" Well, it certainly comes from something," said 
Mrs. Makcly, with the courage of her convictions. 

She was evidently not going to be put down by that 
sour young fellow, and I was glad of it, though L 
must say I thought the thing she left to rankle in his 


mind from our former meeting had not been said in 
very good taste. I thought, too, that she would not 
fare best in any encounter of wits with him, and I 
rather trembled for the result. I said, to relieve the 
strained situation, " I wish there was some way of our 
knowing each other better. I m sure there s a great 
deal of good will on both sides." 

" No, there isn t," said Camp, " or at least I can 
answer for our side, that there isn t. You come into 
the country to get as much for your money as you can, 
and we mean to let you have as little as we can. 
That s the whole story, and if Mr. Homos believes 
anything different, he s very much mistaken." 

" I hadn t formed any conclusion in regard to the 
matter, which is quite new to me," said the Altrnriau, 
mildly. " But why is there no basis of mutual kind 
ness between you ? " 

" Because it s like everything else with us, it s a 
question of supply and demand, and there is no room 
for any mutual kindness in a question of that kind. 
Even if there were, there is another thing that would 
kill it. The summer folks, as we call them, look down 
on the natives, as they call us, and we know it." 

" Now, Mr. Camp, I am sure that vou cannot say I 


look down on the natives, said Mrs. Makely, with an 
air of argument. 

The young fellow laughed. "Oh, yes, you do," he 
said, not unamiably, and he added, "and you ve got 
the right to. We re not fit to associate with you, and 
you know it, and we know it. You ve got more 
money, and you ve got nicer clothes, and you ve got 
prettier manners. You talk about things that most 
natives never heard of, and you care for things they 
never saw. I know it s the custom to pretend differ 
ently, but I m not going to pretend differently." I 
recalled what my friend, the banker, said about throw 
ing away cant, and I asked -nysclf if I were in the 
presence of some such free sj. irit again. I did not 
see how young Camp could afford it ; but then I re 
flected that he had really nothing to lose by it, for he 
did not expect to make anything out of us; Mrs. 
Makely would probably not give up his sister as 
seamstress, If the girl continued to work so well and 
so cheaply as she said. " Suppose," he went on, 
" that some old native took you at your word, and 
came to call upon you at the hotel, with his wife, just 
as one of the city cottagers would do if he wanted to 
make your acquaintance ? " 


" I should be perfectly delighted ! " said Mrs. 
Makely, and I should receive them with the greatest 
possible cordiality." 

" The same kind of cordiality that you would show 
to the cottagers ? " 

u I suppose that I should feel that I had more in 
common with the cottagers. We should be interested 
in the same things, aud we should probably know the 
same people and have more to talk about " 

" You would both belong to the same class, and 
that tells the whole story. If you were out west, and 
the owner of one of those big, twenty thousand acre 
farms called on you w tli his wife, would you act to 
ward them as you would toward our natives ? You 
wouldn t ! You would all be rich people together, 
and you would understand each other because you 
had money." 

" Now, that is not so," Mrs. Makely interrupted. 
" There are plenty of rich people one Wouldn t wish 
to know at all, and who really can t get into society ; 
who are ignorant and vulgar. And then when you 
come to money,. I don t see but what country people 
are as glad to get it as anybody." 

" Oh, gladder," said the young man. 


" Well ? " demanded Mrs. Makcly, as if this were a 
final stroke of logic. The young man did not reply, 
and Mrs. Makely continued : " Now I will appeal to 
your sister to say whether she has ever seen any diff 
erence in my manner toward her from what I show to 
all the young ladies in the hotel." The young girl 
flushed, and seemed reluctant to answer. " Why, 
Lizzie ! " cried Mrs. Makely, and her tone showed 
that she was really hurt. 

The scene appeared to me rather cruel and I 
glanced at Mrs. Camp, with an expectation that she 
would say something to relieve it. But she did not. 
Her large, benevolent face expressed only a quiet 
interest in the discussion. 

"You know very well, Mrs. Makely," said the girl, 
" you don t regard me as you do the young ladies in 
the hotel." 

There was no resentment in her voice or look, but 
only a sort of regret, as if, but for this grievance, she 
could have loved the woman from whom she had 
probably had much kindness. The tears came into 
Mrs. Makcly s eyes, and she turned toward Mrs. 
Camp. " And is this the way you all feel toward 
us ? " she asked. 


" Why shouldn t we ? " a-jked the invalid, in her 
turn. "But, no, it isn t the way all the country peo 
ple feel. Many of them feel as you would like to 
have them feel ; but that is because they do not think. 
When they think, they feel as we do. But I don t 
blame you. You can t help yourselves, any more than 
we can. We re all bound up together in that, at 

At this apparent relenting, Mrs. Makely tricked her 
beams a little, and said, plaintively, as if offering her 
self for further condolence : " Yes, that is what that 
woman at the little shanty back there said : some have 
to be rich, and some have to be poor ; it takes all 
kinds to make a world." 

" How would you like to be one of those that have 
to be poor?" asked young Camp, with an evil grin. 

" I don t know," said Mrs. Makely, with unexpected 
spirit ; " but I am sure that I should respect the feel 
ings of all, rich or poor." 

" I am sorry if we have hurt yours, Mrs. Makely," 
said Mrs. Camp, with dignity. " You asked us cer. 
tain questions, and we thought you wished us to reply 
truthfully. We could not answer you with smooth 


" But sometimes you do," said Mrs. Makely, and 
the tears stood in her eyes again. " And you know 
how fond I am of you all ! " 

Mrs. Camp wore a bewildered look. " Perhaps we 
have said more than we ought. But I couldn t help 
it, and I don t see how the children could, when you 
asked them here, before Mr. Homos." 

I glanced at the Altrurian, sitting attentive and 
silent, and a sudden misgiving crossed my mind con 
cerning him. \Vas he really a man, a human entity, 
a personality like ourselves, or was lie merely a sort of 
spiritual solvent, sent for the moment to precipitate 
whatever sincerity there was in us, and show us what 
the truth was concerning our relations to each other ? 
It was a fantastic conception, but I thought it was one 
that I might employ in some sort of purely romantic 
design, and I was professionally grateful for it. I 
said, with a humorous gaiety ; " Yes, we all seem to 
have been compelled to be much more honest than we 
like ; and if Mr. Ilomos is going to write an account 
of his travels, when he gets home, he can t accuse us 
of hypocrisy, at any rate. And I always used to 
think it was one of our virtues ! What with Mr. 
Camp, here, and my friend, the banker, at the hotel, 


I don t think he ll have much reason to complain even 
of our reticence." 

" Well, whatever he says of us," sighed Mrs. 
Makcly, with a pious glance at the sword over the 
bed, " he will have to say that, in spite of our divis 
ions and classes, we are all Americans, and if we 
haven t the same opinions and ideas on minor matters, 
we all have the same country." 

" I don t know about that," came from Reuben 
Camp, with shocking promptness. " I don t believe 
we all have the same country. America is one thing 
for you, and it s quite another thing for us. America 
means ease, and comfort, and amusement for you, 
year in and year out, and if it means work, it s work 
that you wish to do. For us, America means work 
that we have to do, and hard work, all the time, if 
we re going to make both ends meet. It means liberty 
for you ; but what liberty lias a man got who doesn t 
know where his next meal is coming from ? Once I 
was in a strike, when I was working on the railroad, 
and I ve seen men come and give up their liberty for 
a chance to earn their family s living. They knew 
they were right, and that they ought to have stood up 
for their rights ; but they had to lie down, and lick 


the hand that fed them ! Yes, we are all Americans, 
but I guess we haven t all got the same country, Mrs. 
Makely. What sort of a country has a black-listed 
man got ? " 

"A black-listed man?" she repeated. "I don t 
know what you mean." 

" Well, a kind of man I ve seen in the mill towns, 
that the bosses have all got on their books as a man 
that isn t to be given work on any account ; that s to 
be punished with hunger and cold, and turned into 
the street, for having offended them ; and that s to be 
made to suffer through his helpless family, for having 
offended them." 

" Excuse me, Mr. Camp," I interposed, " but isn t 
a black-listed man usually a man who has made him 
self prominent in some labor trouble ? " 

" Yes," the young fellow answered, without seeming 
sensible of the point I had made. 

" Ah ! " I returned. " Then you can hardly blame 
the employers for taking it out of him in any way 
they can. That s human nature." 

" Good heavens ! " the Altrurian cried out. " Is it 
possible that in America it is human nature to take 
away the bread of a man s family, because he has 


gone counter to your interest or pleasure on some 
economical question ? " 

"Well, Mr. Twelvemough seems to think so," 
sneered the young man. "But whether it s human 
nature or not, it s a fact that they do it, and you can 
guess how much a black-listed man must love the 
country where such a thing can happen to him. What 
should you call such a thing as black-listing in Altru- 

"Oh, yes," Mrs. Makely pleaded, "do let us get 
him to talking about Altruria, on any terms. I think 
all this about the labor question is so tiresome ; don t 
you, Mrs. Camp ? " 

Mrs. Camp did not answer ; but the Altrurian said, 
in reply to her son : "We should have no name for 
such a thing, for with us such a thing would be im 
possible. There is no crime so henious, with us, that 
the punishment would take away the criminal s chance 
of earning his living." 

" Oh, if he- was a criminal," said young Camp, " he 
would be all right, here. The state would give him a 
chance to earn his living, then." 

" But if he had no other chance of earning his liv 
ing, and had committed no offense against the laws" 


" Then the state would let him take to the road. 
Like that fellow ! " 

He pulled aside the shade of the window, where he 
sat, and we saw pausing before the house, and glanc 
ing doubtfully at the door-step, where the dog lay, a 
vile and loathsome-looking tramp, a blot upon the 
sweet and wholesome landscape, a scandal to the 
sacred day. His rags burlesqued the form which they 
did not wholly hide ; his broken shoes were covered 
with dust; his coarse hair came in a plume 
through his tattered hat ; his red, sodden face, at once 
fierce and timid, was rusty with a fortnight s beard. 
He offended the eye like a visible stench, and the 
wretched carrion seemed to shrink away from our 
gaze, as if he were aware of his loathsomeness. 

" Really," said Mrs. Makcly, " I thought those fel 
lows -were arrested, now. It is too bad to leave them 
at large. They are dangerous." Young Camp left 
the room and we saw him going out toward the tramp. 

" Ah, that s quite right ! " said the lady. " I hope 
Reuben is going to send him about his business. 
Why, surely he s not going to feed the horrid crea 
ture ! " she added, as Camp, after a moment s parley 
with the tramp, turned with him, and disappeared 


round the corner of the house. " Now, Mrs. Camp, 
I think that is really a very bad example. It s en 
couraging them. Very likely, he ll go to sleep in 
your barn, and set it on fire with his pipe. What do 
you do with tramps in Altruria, Mr. Homos ? " 

The Altrurian seemed not to have heard her. He 
said to Mrs. Camp: "Then I understand from some 
thing your son let fall that he has not always been 
at home with you, here. Does he reconcile himself 
easily to the country after the excitement of town life ? 
I have read that the cities in America are draining 
the country of the young people." 

" I don t think he was sorry to come home," said 
the mother with a touch of fond pride. " But there 
was no choice for him after his father died ; he was 
always a good boy, and he has not made us feel that 
we were keeping him away from anything better. 
When his father was alive we let him go, because then 
we were not so dependent, and I wished him to try 
his fortune in the world, as all boys long to do. But 
he is rather peculiar, and he seems to have got quite 
enough of the world. To be sure, I don t suppose 
he s seen the brightest side of it. He first went to 
work in the mills down at Ponkwasset, but he was 


laid off there, when the hard times came, and there 
was so much overproduction, and he took a job of 
railroading, and was braking on a freight train when 
his father left us." 

Mrs. Makely said, smiling, " No, I don t think that 
was the brightest outlook in the world. No w r ondcr 
he has brought back such gloomy impressions. I am 
sure that if he could have seen life under brighter 
auspices he would not have the ideas he has." 

" Very likely," said the mother dryly. " Our ex 
periences have a great deal to do with forming our 
opinions. But I am not dissatisfied with my son s 
ideas. I suppose Reuben got a good many of his 
ideas from his father : he s his father all over again. 
My husband thought slavery was wrong, and lie went 
into the war to fight against it. He used to say when 
the war was over that the negroes were emancipated, 
but slavery was not abolished yet." 

"What in the world did he mean by that?" de 
manded Mrs. Makely. 

"Something you wouldn t understand as we do. I 
tried to carry on the farm after he first went, and be 
fore Reuben was large enough to help me much, and 


ought to be in school, and I suppose I overdid. At 
any rate that was when I had my first shock of paral 
ysis. I never was very strong, and I presume my. 
health was weakened by my teaching school so much, 
and studying, before I was married. But that doesn t 
matter now, and hasn t for many a year. The place 
was clear of debt, then, but I had to get a mortgage 
put on it. The savings bank down in the village took 
it, and we ve been paying the interest ever since. 
My husband died paying it, and my son will pay it 
all my life, and then I suppose the bank will foreclose. 
The treasurer was an old playmate of my hus 
band s, and he said that as long as either of us lived, 
the mortgage could lie." 

" How splendid of him ! " said Mrs. Makcly. " I 
should think you had been very fortunate." 

" I said that you would not see it as we do," said 
the invalid patiently. 

The Altrurian asked : " Are there mortgages on 
many of the farms in the neighborhood ? " 

"Nearly all," said Mrs. Camp. "We seem to own 
them, but in fact they own us." 

Mrs. Makely hastened to say : " My husband thinks 
it s the best way to have your property. If you 


mortgage it close up, you have all your capital free, 
and you can keep turning it over. That s what you 
ought to do, Mrs. Camp. But what was the slavery 
that Captain Camp said was not abolished yet ? " 

The invalid looked at her a moment without reply 
ing, and just then the door of the kitchen opened, 
and young Camp came in, and began to gather some 
food from the table on a plate. 

" Why don t you bring him to the table, Rcub ? " 
his sifter called to him. 

" Oh, he says he d rather not come in, as long as 
we have company, lie says he isn t dressed for din 
ner ; left his spike-tail in the city." 

The young man laughed and his sister with him. 


YOUNG Camp carried out the plate of victuals to 
the tramp, and Mrs. Makcly said to his mother, " I 
suppose you would make the tramp do some sort of 
work to earn his breakfast on week-days ? " 

" Not always," Mrs. Camp replied. " Do the 
boarders at the hotel always work to earn their break 
fast ? " 

" No, certainly not," said Mrs. Makely, with the 
sharpness of offence. " But they always pay for it." 

" I don t think that paying for a thing is earning it. 
Perhaps some one else earned the money that pays 
for it. But I believe there is too much work in the 
world. If I were to live my life over again, I should 
not work half so hard. My husband and I took this 


place when we were young married people, and began 
working to pay for it. We wanted to feel that it was 
ours, that we owned it, and that our children should 
own it afterwards. We both worked all day long like 
slaves, and many a moonlight night we were up till 
morning, almost, gathering the stones from our fields, 
and burying them in deep graves that we had dug for 
them. But we buried our youth, and strength, and 
health in those graves, too, and what for? I don t 
own the farm that we worked so hard to pay for, and 
my children won t. That is what it has all come to. 
We were rightly punished for our greed, I suppose. 
Perhaps no one has a right to own any portion of the 
earth. Sometimes I think so, but my husband and I 
carried this farm, and now the savings bank owns it. 
That seems strange, doesn t it ? I suppose you ll say 
that the bank paid for it. Well, perhaps so ; but the 
bank didn t earn it. When I think of that I don t al 
ways think that a person who pays for his breakfast 
has the best right to a breakfast." 

I could see the sophistry of all this, but I had not 
the heart to point it out ; I felt the pathos of it, too. 
Mrs. Makely seemed not to see the one nor to feel the 
other, very distinctly. " Yes, but surely," she said, 


" if you give a tramp his breakfast without making 
him work for it, you must sec that it is encouraging 
idleness. And idleness is very corrupting the sight 
of it." 

"You mean to the country people? Well, they 
have to stand a good deal of that. The summer folks 
that spend four or five months of the year here, don t 
seem to do anything from morning till night." 

" Ah, but you must recollect that they arc resting/ 
You have no idea how hard they all work in town dur 
ing the winter," Mrs. Makely urged, with an air of 

" Perhaps the tramps arc resting, too. At any 
rate, I don t think the sight of idleness in rags, and 
begging at back doors, is very corrupting to the coun 
try people ; I never heard of a single tramp who had 
started from the country ; they all come from the 
cities. It s the other kind of idleness that tempts our 
young people. The only tramps that my son says he 
ever envies are the well dressed, strong young fellows 
from town, that go tramping through the mountains 
for exercise every summer." 

The ladies both paused. They seemed to have got 
to the end of their tether ; at least Mrs. Makely had 


apparently nothing else to advance, and I said lightly, 
"But that is just the kind of tramps that Mr. Homos 
would most disapprove of. He says that in Altruria 
they would consider exercise for exercise sake a 
wicked waste of force, and little short of lunacy." 

I thought my exaggeration might provoke him to 
denial, but he seemed not to have found it unjust. 
"Why, you know," he said to Mrs. Camp, " in Altru 
ria every one works with his hands, so that the hard 
work shall not all fall to any one class ; and this 
manual labor of each is sufficient to keep the body in 
health, as well as to earn a living. After the three 
hours work, which constitutes a day s work with us, 
is done, the young people have all sorts of games and 
sports, and they carry them as late into life as the 
temperament of each demands. But what I was say 
ing to Mr. Twelvemough perhaps I did not make 
myself clear was that we should regard the sterile 
putting forth of strength in exercise, if others were 
each day worn out with hard manual labor, as insane 
or immoral. But I can account for it differently with 
you, because I understand that in your conditions a 
person of leisure could not do any manual labor with 
out taking away the work of some one who needed it 


to live by ; and could not even relieve an overworked 
laborer, and give him the money for the work without 
teaching him habits of idleness. In Altruria we can 
all keep ourselves well by doing each his share of 
hard work, and we can help those who are exhausted, 
when such a thing happens, without injuring them 
materially or morally." 

Young Camp entered at this moment and the Altru- 
rian hesitated. " Oh, do go on ! " Mrs. Makcly en 
treated. She added to Camp, " We ve got him to 
talking about Altruria at last, and we wouldn t have 
him stopped for worlds." 

The Altrurian looked around at all our faces, and 
no doubt read our eager curiosity in them, lie smiled, 
and said, " I shall be very glad I m sure. But I do not 
think you will find anything so remarkable in our 
civilization, if you will conceive of it as the outgrowth 
of the neighborly instinct. In fact, neighborliness is 
the essence of Altrurianism. If you will imagine 
having the same feeling toward all," he explained to 
Mrs. Makcly, " as you have toward your next door 
neighbor " 

" My next door neighbor ! " she cried. " But I don t 
know the people next door ! We live in a large 


apartment house, some forty families, and I assure 
you I do not know a soul among them." 

He looked at her with a puzzled air, and she con 
tinued, " Sometimes it does seem rather hard. One 
day the people on the same landing with us, lost one 
of their children, and I should never have been a 
whit the wiser, if my cook hadn t happened to men 
tion it. The servants all know each other ; they meet 
in the back elevator, and get acquainted. I don t en 
courage it. You can t tell what kind of families they 
belong to." 

" But surely," the Altrurian persisted, " you have 
friends in the city whom you think of as your neigh 
bors ? " 

" No, I can t say that I have," said Mrs. Makely. 
" I have my visiting list, but I shouldn t think of any 
body on that as a neighbor." 

The Altrurian looked so blank and baffled that I 
could hardly help laughing. " Then I should not 
know how to explain Altruria to you, I m afraid." 

" Well," she returned lightly, " if it s anything like 
ncighborliness, as I ve seen it in small places, deliver 
me from it ! I like being independent. That s why 
I like the city. You re let alone." 


11 1 was down in New York, once, and I went 
through some of the streets and houses where the poor 
people live," said young Camp, " and they seemed to 
know each other, and to be quite neighborly." 

"And would you like to be all messed in .with each 
other, that way ? " demanded the lady. 

" Well, I thought it was better than living as we do 
in the country, so far apart that we never see each 
other, hardly. And it seems to me better than not 
having any neighbors at all." 

"Well, every one to his taste," said Mrs. Makcly. 
" I wish you would tell us how people manage with 
you, socially, Mr. Homos." 

" Why, you know," he began, "we have neither city 
nor country in your sense, and so we are neither so 
isolated nor so crowded together. You feel that you 
lose a great deal, in not seeing each other oftener ? " 
he asked Camp. 

" Yes. Folks rust out, living alone. It s human 
nature to want to get together." 

" And I understand Mrs. Makely that it is human 
nature to want to keep apart ? " 

" Oh, no, but to come together independently," she 


" Well that is what we have contrived in our life 
at home. I should have to say, in the first place, 
that " 

" Excuse me, just one moment, Mr. Homos ! " said 
Mrs. Makcly. This perverse woman was as anxious to 
hear about Altruria as any of us, but she was a wom 
an who would rather hear the sound of her own voice 
than any other, even if she were dying, as she would 
call it, to hear the other. The Altrurian stopped 
politely, and Mrs. Makcly went on : "I have been 
thinking of what Mr. Camp was saying about the 
black-listed men, and their all turning into tramps " 

" But I didn t say that, Mrs. Makcly," the young 
fellow protested, in astonishment. 

" Well, it stands to reason that if the tramps have 
all been black-listed men " 

"But I didn t say that, cither! " 

" No matter ! What I am trying to get at is this : 
if a workman .has made himself a nuisance to the 
employers, haven t they a right to punish him in any 
way they can ? " 

" I believe there s no law yet, against black-listing," 
said Camp. 

" Very well, then, I don t see what they ve got to 


complain of. The employers surely know their own 
business. " 

" They claim to know the men s too. That s what 
they re always saying ; they will manage their own 
affairs in their own way. But no man, or company, 
that does business on a large scale, has any affairs 
that are not partly other folks affairs, too. All the 
saying in the world won t make it different." 

"Very well, then," said Mrs. Makcly, with a force 
of argument which she seemed to think was irresis 
tible, " I think the workmen had better leave things 
to the employers, and then they won t get black-listed. 
It s as broad as it s long." I confess, that although I 
agreed with Mrs. Makely in regard to what the work 
men had better do, her position had been arrived at 
by such extraordinary reasoning that I blushed for 
her ; at the same time, I wanted to laugh. She con 
tinued triumphantly, " You sec, the employers have 
ever so much more at stake." 

" The men have everything at stake ; the work of 
their hands," said the young fellow. 

" Oh, but surely," said Mrs. Makely, "you wouldn t 
set that against capital ? You wouldn t compare the 
two ? " 


" Yes, I should," said Camp, and I could sec his 
eye kindle and his jaw stiffen. 

" Then, I suppose you would say that a man ought 
to get as much for his work as an employer gets for 
his capital. If you think one has as much at stake as 
the other, you must think they ought to be paid 

" That is just what I think," said Camp, and Mrs. 
Makely burst into a peal of amiable laughter. 

" Now, that is too preposterous! " 

" Why is it preposterous ? " he demanded, with a 
quivering nostril. 

" Why, simply because it z s," said the lady, but 
she did not say why, and although I thought so, too, 
I was glad she did not attempt to do it, for her con 
clusions seemed to me much better than her reasons. 

The old wooden clock in the kitchen began to 
strike, and she rose briskly to her feet, and went and 
laid the books she had been holding in her lap on the 
table beside Mrs. Camp s bed. " We must really be 
going," she said, as she leaned over and kissed the 
invalid. " It is your dinner time, and we shall barely 
get back for lunch, if we go by the Loop road ; and I 
want very much to have Mr. Homos see the Witch s 


Falls, on the way. 1 iiavo got two or three of the 
books here that Mr. Makely brought me last night I 
sha n t have time to read them at once and I m 
smuggling in one of Mr. Twclvemough s, that he s 
too modest to present for himself." She turned a gay 
glance upon me, and Mrs. Camp thanked me, and a 
number of civilities followed from all sides. In the 
process of their exchange, Mrs. Makely s spirits per 
ceptibly rose, and she came away in high good-humor 
with the whole Camp family. " Well, now, I am 
sure," she said to the Altrurian, as we began the long 
ascent of the Loop road, " you must allow that you 
have seen some very original characters. But how 
warped people get living alone so much ! That is the 
great drawback of the country. Mrs. Camp thinks the 
savings bank did her a real injury in taking a mort 
gage on her place, and Reuben seems to have seen 
just enough of the outside world to get it all wrong 1 
But they are the best-hearted creatures in the world, 
and I know you won t misunderstand them. That un 
sparing country bluntness, don t you think it s per 
fectly delightful ? I do like to stir poor Reuben up, 
and get him talking. He is a good boy, if he is so 

wrong-headed, and he s the most devoted son and 


brother in the world. Very few young fellows would 
waste their lives on an old farm like that ; I suppose 
when his mother dies he will marry and strike out for 
himself in some growing place." 

" He did not seem to think the world held out any 
very bright inducements for him to leave home," the 
Altrurian suggested. 

" Oh, let him get one of these lively, pushing 
Yankee girls for a wife, and he will think very differ 
ently," said Mrs. Makely. 

The Altrurian disappeared that afternoon, and I 
saw little or nothing of him till the next day at 
supper. Then he said he had been spending the time 
with young Camp, who had shown him something of 
the farm work, and introduced him to several of the 
neighbors ; he was very much interested in it all, be 
cause at home he was, at present, engaged in farm 
work himself, and he was curious to contrast the Amer 
ican and Altrurian methods. We began to talk of the 
farming interest again, later in the day, when the 
members of our little group came together, and I told 
them what the Altrurian had been doing. The doctor 
had been suddenly called back to town; but the 
minister was there, and the lawyer, and the professor, 


and the banker, and the manufacturer. It was the 
banker who began to comment on what I said, and 
he seemed to be in the frank humor of the Saturday 
night before. " Yes," he said, " it s a hard life, and 
they have to look sharp, if they expect to make both 
ends meet. I would not like to undertake it myself, 
with their resources." 

The professor smiled, in asking the Altrurian : 
" Did your agricultural friends tell you anything of 
the little rural traffic in votes that they carry on about 
election time ? That is one of the side means they 
have of making both ends meet." 

" I don t understand," said the Altrurian. 

" Why, you know that you can buy votes among our 
virtuous yeoman, from two dollars up, at the ordinary 
elections. When party feeling runs high, and there 
are vital questions at stake, the votes cost more." 

The Altrurian looked round at us all, aghast : " Do 
you mean that Americans buy votes ? " 

The professor smiled again. " Oh, no ; I only 
mean that they sell them. Well, I don t wonder that 
they rather prefer to blink the fact ; but it is a fact, 
nevertheless, and pretty notorious." 

" Good heavens ! " cried the Altrurian. " And 


what defense have they for such treason ? I don t 
mean those who sell ; from what I have seen of the 
bareness and hardship of their lives, I could well im 
agine that there might, sometimes, come a pinch 
when they would be glad of the few dollars that they 
could get in that way ; but what have those who buy 
to say ? " 

" Well," said the professor, " it isn t a transaction 
that s apt to be talked about, much, on either side." 

" I think," the banker interposed, " that there is 
some exaggeration about that business ; but it certainly 
exists, and I suppose it is a growing evil in the country. 
I fancy it arises, somewhat, from a want of clear 
thinking on the subject. Then, there is no doubt but 
it comes, sometimes, from poverty. A man sells his 
vote, as a woman sells her person, for money, when 
neither can turn virtue into cash. They feel that 
they must live, and neither of them would be satisfied 
if. Dr. Johnson told them he didn t see the necessity. 
In fact, I shouldn t, myself, if I were in their places. 
You can t have the good of a civilization, like ours, with 
out having the bad ; but I am not going to deny that 
the bad is bad. Some people like to do that ; but I 
don t find my account in it. In either case, I confess 


that I think the buyer is worse than the seller in 
comparably worse. I suppose you are not troubled 
with either case, in Altruria?" 

" Oh, no ! " said the Altrurian, with an utter horror, 
which no repetition of his words can give the sense 
of. " It would be unimaginable." 

"Still," the banker suggested, "you have cakes 
and ale, and at times the ginger is hot in the mouth?" 

" I don t pretend that we have immunity from 
error ; but upon such terms as you have described, 
we have none. It would be impossible." 

The Altrurian s voice expressed no contempt, but 
only a sad patience, a melancholy surprise, such as a 
celestial angel might feel in being suddenly confronted 
with some secret shame and horror of the Pit. 

" Well," said the banker, " with us, the only way 
is to take the business view and try to strike an aver 
age somewhere." 

" Talking of business," said the professor, turning 
to the manufacturer, who had been quietly smoking, 
" why don t some of you capitalists take hold of farm 
ing, here in the east, and make a business of it as 
they do in the west ? " 

"Thank you," said the other, "if you mean me, I 


would rather not invest." He was silent a moment, 
and then he went on, as if the notion were beginning 
to win upon him : " It may come to something like 
that, though. If it does, the natural course, I should 
think, would be through the railroads. It would be a 
very easy matter for them to buy up all the good 
farms along their lines and put tenants on them, and 
run them in their own interest. Really, it isn t a bad 
scheme. The waste in the present method is enor 
mous, and there is no reason why the roads should 
not own the farms, as they are beginning to own the 
mines. They could manage them better than the 
small farmers do, in every way. I wonder the tiring^ 
hasn t occurred to some smart railroad man." 

We all laughed a little, perceiving the semj-ironical 
spirit of his talk ; but the Altrurian must have taken 
it in dead earnest : " But, in that case, the number of 
people thrown out of work would be very great, 
wouldn t it? And what would become of them ? " 

" Well, they would have whatever their farms 
brought, to make a new start with somewhere else ; 
and, besides, that question of what would become of 
people thrown out of work by a given improvement, 
is something that capital cannot consider. We used 


to introduce a bit of machinery, every now and then, 
in the mill, that threw out a dozen, or a hundred peo 
ple ; but we couldn t stop for that." 

" And you never knew what became of them ? " 

" Sometimes. Generally not. We took it for 
granted that they would light on their feet, somehow." 

" And the state the whole people the govern 
ment did nothing for them ? " 

" If it became a question of the poor-house, yes." 

" Or the jail," the lawyer suggested. 

" Speaking of the poor-house," said the professor, 
"did our exemplary rural friends tell you how they 
sell out their paupers to the lowest bidder, and get 
them boarded sometimes as low as a dollar and a 
quarter a week ? " 

" Yes, young Mr. Camp told me of that. He 
seemed to think it was terrible." 

" Did lie ? Well, I m glad to hear that of young 
Mr. Camp. From all that I ve been told before, he 
seems to reserve his conscience for the use of capi 
talists. What does he propose to do about it ? " 

" He seems to think the state ought to find work 
for them." 

" Oh, paternalism ! Well, I guess the state wont." 


" That was his opinion, too." 

" It seems a hard fate," said the minister, " that 
the only provision the law makes for people who are 
worn out by sickness or a life of work should be 
something that assorts them with idiots and lunatics, 
and brings such shame upon them that it is almost as 
terrible as death." 

" It is the only way to encourage independence and 
individuality," said the professor. " Of course, it has 
its dark side. But anything else would be sentimen 
tal and unbusinesslike, and in fact, un-American." 

" I am not so sure that it would be un-Christian," 
the minister timidly ventured, in the face of such an 
authority on political economy. 

"Oh, as to that, I must leave the question to the 
reverend clergy," said the professor. 

A very unpleasant little silence followed. It was 
broken by the lawyer, who put his feet together, and 
after a glance down at them, began to say, " I was 
very much interested this afternoon by a conversation 
I had with some of the young fellows in the hotel. 
You know most of them are graduates, and they are 
taking a sort of supernumerary vacation this summer, 
before they plunge into the battle of life in the autumn. 


They were talking of some other fellows, classmates 
of theirs, who were not so lucky, but had been ob 
liged to begin the fight at once. It seems that our 
fellows here arc all going in for some sort of profes 
sion : medicine, or law, or engineering, or teaching, or 
the church, and they were commiserating those other 
fellows not only because they were not having the 
supernumerary vacation, but because they were going 
into business. That struck me as rather odd, and I 
tried to find out what it meant, and as nearly as I 
could find out, it meant that most college graduates 
would not go into business if they could help it. 
They seemed to feel a sort of incongruity between 
their education and the business life. They pitied 
the fellows that had to go in for it, and apparently 
the fellows that had to go in for it pitied themselves, 
for the talk seemed to have begun about a letter that 
one of the chaps here had got from poor Jack or Jim 
somebody, who had been obliged to go into his 
father s business, and was groaning over it. The 
fellows who were going to study professions were 
hugging themselves at the contrast between their fate 
and his, and were making remarks about business 
that were to say the least unbusinesslike. A few 


years ago we should have made a summary disposi 
tion of the matter, and I believe some of the newspa 
pers still are in doubt about the value of a college 
education to men who have got to make their way. 
What do you think ? " 

The lawyer addressed his question to the manufac 
turer, who answered with a comfortable satisfaction, 
that he did not think those young men if they went 
into business would find that they knew too much. 

" But they pointed out," said the lawyer, " that 
the great American fortunes had been made by men 
who had never had their educational advantages, and 
they seemed to think that what we call the education 
of a gentleman was a little too good for money-mak 
ing purposes." 

"Well," said the other, "they can console them 
selves with the reflection that going into business 
isn t necessarily making money; it isn t necessarily 
making a living, even." 

" Some o f them seem to have caught on to that 
fact ; and they pitied Jack or Jim partly because the 
chances were so much against him. But they pitied 
him mostly because in the life before him he would 
have no use for his academic training, and he had 


better not gone to college at all. They said lie would 
be none the better for it, and would always be miser 
able when he looked back to it." 

The manufacturer did not reply, and the professor, 
after a preliminary hemming, held his peace. It was 
the banker who took the word. " Well, so far as 
business is concerned, they were right. It is no use 
to pretend that there is any relation between business 
and the higher education. There is no business man 
who will pretend that there is not often an actual in 
compatibility, if he is honest. I know that when we 
get together at a commercial or financial dinner, we 
talk as if great merchants and great financiers were 
beneficent geniuses, who evoked the prosperity of 
mankind by their schemes from the conditions that 
would otherwise have remained barren. Well, very 
likely they are, but we must all confess that they do 
not know it at the time. What they arc consciously 
looking out for then is the main chance. If general 
prosperity follows, all well and good ; they are willing 
to be given the credit for it. But, as I said, with bus 
iness as business, the education of a gentleman has 
nothing to do. That education is always putting the 
old Ciceronian question : whether the fellow arriving 


at a starving city with a cargo of grain is bound to 
tell the people before he squeezes them, that there arc 
half a dozen other fellows with grain just below the 
horizon. As a gentleman he would have to tell them, 
because he could not take advantage of their necess 
ities ; but as a business man, he would think it bad 
business to tell them, or no business at all. The 
principle goes all through ; I say, business is business; 
and I am not going to pretend that business will ever 
be anything else. In our business -battles, we don t 
take off our hats to the other side, and say, Gentle 
men of the French Guard, have the goodness to fire. 
That may be war, but it is not business. We seize 
all the advantages we can ; very few of us would act 
ually deceive ; but if a fellow believes a thing, and we 
know he is wrong, we do not usually take the trouble 
to set him right, if we are going to lose anything by 
undeceiving him. That would not be business. I 
suppose you think that is dreadful ? " He turned 
smilingly to the minister. 

" I wish I wish," said the minister, gently, " it 
could be otherwise." 

"Well, I wish -so, too," returned the ban 
ker. " But it isn t. Am I right or am I wrong ? " 


lie demanded of the manufacturer, who laughed. 

" I am not conducting this discussion. I will not 
deprive you of the floor." 

" What you say," I ventured to put in, " reminds 
me of the experience of a friend of mine, a brother 
novelist. He wrote a story where the failure of a 
business man turned on a point just like that you have 
instanced. The man could have retrieved himself if 
he had let some people believe that what was so was 
not so, but his conscience stepped in and obliged him 
to own the truth. There was a good deal of talk 
about the case, I suppose because it was not in real 
life, and my friend heard divers criticisms. He heard 
of a group of ministers who blamed him for exalting 
a case of common honesty, as if it were something 
extraordinary; and he heard .of some business men 
who talked it over, and said he had worked the case 
up splendidly, but he was all wrong in the outcome ; 
the fellow would never have told the other fellows. 
They said it would not have been business." 

We all laughed except the minister and the Altru- 
rian, the manufacturer said, " Twenty-five years hence, 
the fellow who is going into business, may pity the 
fellows who are pitying him for his hard fate now." 


"Very possibly, but not necessarily," said the 
banker. " Of course, the business man is on top, as 
far as money goes ; he is the fellow who makes the 
big fortunes ; the millionaire lawyers, and doctors, 
and ministers are exceptional. But his risks are tre 
mendous. Ninety-five times out of a hundred he 
fails. To be sure, he picks up and goes on, but he 
seldom gets there, after all." 

" Then in your system," said the Altrurian, " the 
great majority of those who go into what you call the 
battle of life, are defeated ? " 

" The killed, wounded and missing sum up a fright 
ful total," the banker admitted. " But whatever the 
end is, there is a great deal of prosperity on the way. 
The statistics are correct, but they do not tell the 
whole truth. It is not so bad as it seems. Still, 
simply looking at the material chances, I don t blame 
those young fellows for not wanting to go into busi 
ness. And when you come to other considerations ! 
We used to cut the knot of the difficulty pretty sharp 
ly ; we said a college education was wrong ; or, the hot 
and hot American^ preadeaglers did. Business is the 
national ideal, and the successful business man is the 
American type. It is a business man s country." 


"Then, if I understand you," said the Altrurian, 
" and I am very anxious to have a clear understanding 
of the matter, the effect of the university with you is 
to unfit a youth for business life. 1 

" Oh, no. It may give him great advantages in it, 
and that is the theory and expectation of most fathers 
who send their sons to the university. But, undoubt 
edly, the effect is to render business-life distasteful. 
The university nurtures all sorts of lofty ideals, which 
business has no use for." 

" Then the effect is undemocratic ? " 

" Xo, it is simply unbusinesslike. The boy is a 
better democrat when he leaves college, than lie will 
be later, if he goes into business. The university has 
taught him and equipped him to use his own gifts 
and powers for his advancement, but the first lesson 
of business and the last, is to use other men s gifts 
and powers. If he looks about him at all, he sees 
that no man gets rich simply by his own labor, no 
matter how mighty a genius he is, and that if you 
want to get rich, you must make other men work for 
\ you, and pay you for the priy^c^e of doing so. 
Isn t that true ? " 

The banker turned to the manufacturer with this 


question, and the other said, " The theory is, that we 
give people work," and they both laughed. 

The minister said, " I believe that in Altruria, no 
man works for the profit of another? " 

" No ; each works for the profit of all," replied the 

" Well," said the banker, " you seem to have made 
it go. Nobody can deny that. But we couldn t 
make it go here." 

u Why ? I am very curious to know why our sys 
tem seems so impossible to you ! " 

"Well, it is contrary to the American spirit. It is 
alien to our love of individuality." 

" But we prize individuality ; too, and we think we 
secure it under our system. Under yours, it seems 
to me that while the individuality of the man who 
makes other men work for him is safe, except from 
itself, the individuality of the workers " 

" Well, that is their lookout. We have found that 
upon the whole, it is best to let every man look out 
for himself. I know that, in a certain light, the re 
sult has an ugly aspect ; but, nevertheless, in spite of 
all, the country is enormously prosperous. The pur 
suit of happiness, which is one of the inalienable 


rights secured to us by the Declaration is, and always 
has been, a dream ; but the pursuit of the dollar yields 
tangible proceeds, and we get a good deal of excite 
ment out of it, as it goes on. You can t deny that 
we are the richest nation in the world. Do you call 
Altruria a rich country ? " 

I could not quite make out whether the banker was 
serious or not in all this talk ; sometimes I suspected 
him of a line mockery, but the Altrurian took him 
upon the surface of his words. 

" I hardly know whether it is or not. The question 
of wealth docs not enter into our scheme. I can say 
that we all have enough, and that no one is even in 
the fear of want." 

" Yes, that is very well. But we should think it 
was paying too much for it, if we had to give up the 
hope of ever having more than we wanted," and at 
this point the banker uttered his jolly laugh, and I 
perceived that he had been trying to draw the Altru 
rian out, and practice upon his patriotism. It was a 
great relief to find that he had been joking, in so much 
that seemed a dead give-away of our economical posi 
tion. " In Altruria," he asked, " who is your ideal 

great man ? I don t mean personally, but abstractly." 


The Altrurian thought a moment. " With us, there 
is so little ambition for distinction, as you understand 
it, that your question is hard to answer. But I 
should say, speaking largely, that it was some man 
who had been able for the time being, to give the 
greatest happiness to the greatest number some art 
ist, or poet, or inventor, or physician." 

I was somewhat surprised to have the banker take 
this preposterous statement seriously, respectfully. 
"Well, that is quite conceivable with your system. 
What should you say," he demanded of the rest of 
us, generally, " was our ideal of greatness?" 

No one replied at once, or at all, till the manufac 
turer said, " We will let you continue to run it." 

"Well, it is a very curious inquiry, and I have 
thought it over a good deal. I should say that within 
a generation our ideal had changed twice. Before 
the war, and during all the time from the revolution 
onward, it was undoubtedly the great politician, the 
publicist, the statesman. As we grew older and be 
gan to have an intellectual life of our own, I think the 
literary fellows had a pretty good share of the honors 
that were going ; that is, such a man as Longfellow 
was popularly considered a type of greatness. When 


the war came, it brought the sc Idior to the front, and 
there was a period of ten or fifteen years when he 
denominated the national imagination. That period 
passed, and the great era of material prosperity set 
in. The big fortunes began to tower up, and heroes 
of another sort began to appeal to our admiration. I 
don t think there is any doubt but the millionaire is 
now the American ideal. It isn t very pleasant to 
think so, even for people who have got on, but it can t 
very hopefully be denied. It is the man with the 
most money who now takes the prize in our national 

The Altrurian turned curiously toward me, and I 
did my best to tell him what a cake-walk was. When 
I had finished, the banker resumed, only to say, as 
he rose from his chair to bid us good-night, " In any 
average assembly of Americans, the greatest million 
aire would take the eyes of all from the greatest 
statesman, the greatest poet, or the greatest soldier, 
we ever had. That," he added to the Altrurian, 
" will account to you for many things, as you travel 
through our country." 


THE next time the members of our little group came 
together, the manufacturer began at once upon the 
banker : 

" I should think that our friend, the professor, 
here, would hardly like that notion of yours, that 
business, as business, has nothing to do with the edu 
cation of a gentleman. If this is a business man s 
country, and if the professor has nothing in stock but 
the sort of education that business has no use for, I 
should suppose that he would want to go into some 
other line." 

The banker mutely referred the matter to the pro 
fessor, who said, with that cold grin of his which I 
hated : 


" Perhaps we shall wait for business to purge and 
live cleanly. Then it will have some use for the edu 
cation of a gentleman." 

" I sec," said the banker, " that I have touched the 
quick in botli of you, when I hadn t the least notion 
of doing so. But I shouldn t, really, like to prophesy 
which will adapt itself to the other : education or bus 
iness. Let us hope there will be mutual concessions. 
There are some pessimists who say that business 
methods, especially on the large scale of the trusts 
and combinations, have grown worse, instead of 
better; but this may be merely what is called a 
transition state. Hamlet must be cruel to be kind; 
the darkest hour comes before dawn : and so on. 
Perhaps when business gets the whole affair of life 
into its hands, and runs the republic, as its enemies 
now accuse it of doing, the process of purging and 
living cleanly will begin. I have known lots of fel 
lows who started in life rather scampishly ; but when 
they felt secure of themselves, and believed that they 
could afford to be honest, they became so. There s 
no reason why the same thing shouldn t happen on a 
large scale. We must never forget that we are still 
a very novel experiment, though we have matured so 

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of the community, as if it were the fountain of wis 
dom, probity and equity. Suppose there were some 
question of vital interest I won t say financial, but 
political, or moral, or social on which it was nec 
essary to rouse public opinion ; what would be the 
first thing to do ? To call a meeting, over the signa 
tures of the leading business men ; because no other 
names appeal with such force to the public. You 
might get up a call signed by all the novelists, artists, 
ministers, lawyers and doctors in the state, and it 
would not have a tithe of the effect, with the people 
at large, that a call signed by a few leading merchants, 
bank presidents, railroad men and trust officers, would 
have. What is the reason ? It seems strange that I 
should be asking you to defend yourself against your 

"Not at all, my dear fellow, not at all !" the ban 
ker replied, with his caressing bonhomie. " Though 
I will confess, to begin with, that I do not expect to 
answer your question to your entire satisfaction. I 
can only do my best on the installment plan." 
He turned to the Altrurian, and then went on : 
" As I said the other night, this is a business man s 
country. We are a purely commercial people ; money 


is absolutely to the fore ; and business, which is the 
means of getting the most money, is the American 
ideal. If you like, you may call it the American 
fetish ; I don t mind calling it so myself. The fact 
that business is our ideal, or our fetish, will account 
for the popular faith in business men, who form its 
priesthood, JtJiicrarcliy. I don t know, myself, any 
other reason for regarding business men as solider 
than novelists, or artists, or ministers, not to mention 
lawyers and doctors. They are supposed to have long 
heads ; but it appears that ninety-five times out of a 
hundred they haven t. They are supposed to be very 
reliable ; but it is almost invariably a business man, of 
some sort, who gets out to Canada while the state 
examiner is balancing his books, and it is usually the 
longest-headed business men who get plundered by 
him. No, it is simply because business is our national 
ideal, that the business man is honored above all 
other men among us. In the aristocratic countries 
they forward a public object under the patronage of 
the nobility and gentry ; in a plutocratic country they 
get the business men to endorse it. I suppose that 
the average American citizen feels that they wouldn t 
endorse a thing unless it was safe ; and the average 


American citizen likes to be safe lie is cautious. As 
a matter of fact, business men are always taking 
risks, and business is a game of chance, in a certain 
degree. Have I made myself intelligible ? " 

" Entirely so," said the Altrurian ; and lie seemed 
so thoroughly well satisfied, that he forebore asking 
any question farther. 

No one else spoke. The banker lighted a cigar, 
and resumed at the point where he left off when I 
ventured to enter upon the defense of his class with 
him. I must say that he had not convinced me at all. 
At that moment, I would rather have trusted him, in 
any serious matter of practical concern, than all the 
novelists I ever heard of. But I thought I would leave 
the word to him, without further attempt to reinstate 
him in his self-esteem. In fact, he seemed to be get 
ting along very well without it ; or else he was feeling 
that mysterious control from the Altrurian which I 
had already suspected him of using. Voluntarily or 
involuntarily, the banker proceeded with his contribu 
tion to the Altrurian s stock of knowledge concerning 
our civilization : 

" I don t believe, however, that the higher educa 
tion is any more of a failure, as a provision for a 


business career, than the lower education is for the 
life of labor. I suppose that the hypercritical observer 
might say that in a wholly commercial civilization, 
like ours, the business man really needed nothing 
beyond the three R s, and the workingman needed no 
R at all. As a practical affair, there is a good deal to 
be said in favor of that view. The higher education 

-w. . 

is part of *^o social ideal which we have derived 
from the" past, from Europe. TtTis part of the provi 
sion for the Ttfe"~of leisure, the life of the aristocrat, 
which nobody of our generation leads, except women. 
Our women really have some use for the education of 
a gentleman, but our men have none. How will 
that do for a generalization ? " the banker asked of 

" Oh," I admitted, with a laugh, " it is a good deal 
like one of my own. I have always been struck with 
that phase of our civilization." 

" Well, then," the banker resumed, " take the lower 
education. This is part of the civic ideal which, I 
suppose, I may say we evolved from the depths of our 
inner consciousness of what an American citizen 
ought to be. It includes instruction in all the R s, 
and in several other letters of the alphabet. It is given 


free by the state, and no one can deny that it is 
thoroughly socialistic in conception and application." 

" Distinctly so," said the professor. " Now that 
the text-books are furnished by the state, we have 
only to go a step farther, and provide a good, hot 
lunch for the children every day, as they do in Paris." 

" Well," the banker returned, " I don t know that I 
should have much to say against that. It seems as 
reasonable as anything in the system of education 
which we force upon the working-classes. They 
know, perfectly well, whether we do or not, that the 
three R s will not make their children better me 
chanics or laborers, and that, if the fight for a mere 
living is to go on, from generation to generation, they 
will have no leisure to apply the little learning they 
get in the public schools for their personal culture. In 
the meantime, we deprive the parents of their chil 
dren s labor, in order that they may be better citizens 
for their schooling, as we imagine ; I don t know 
whether they are or not. We offer them no sort of 
compensation for their time, and I think we ought to 
feel obliged to them for not wanting wages for their 
children while we are teaching them to be better cit 


" You know," said the professor, " that has been 
suggested by some of their leaders." 

" No, really ? Well, that is too good ! " The banker 
threw back his head, and roared, and we all laughed 
with him. When we had sobered down again, he 
said : " I suppose that when a working man makes all 
the use he can of his lower education, he becomes a 
business man, and then he doesn t need the higher. 
Professor, you seem to be left out in the cold, by our 
system, whichever way you take it." 

" Oh," said the professor, " the law of supply and 
demand works both ways ; it creates the demand, if 
the supply comes first ; and if we keep on giving the 
sons of business men the education of a gentleman, 
we may yet make them feel the need of it. We shall 
evolve a new sort of business man." 

" The "sort that can t make money, or wouldn t 
exactly like to, on some terms?" asked the banker. 
" Well, perhaps we shall work out our democratic sal 
vation in that way. When "you have educated your 
new business man to the point where he can t consent 
to get rich at the obvious cost of others, you ve got 
him on the way back to work with his hands. He will 
sink into the ranks of labor, and give the fellow with 


tho lower education a chance. I ve no doubt he ll 
take it. I don t know but you re right, professor." 

The lawyer had not spoken, as yet. Now he said : 
" Then, it is education, after all, that is to bridge the 
chasm between the classes and the masses, though it 
seems destined to go a long way around about it. 
There was a time, I believe, when we expected 
religion to do that." 

" Well, it may still be doing it, for all I know," 
said the banker. " What do you say ? " he asked, 
turning to the minister. "You ought to be able to 
give us some statistics on the subject with that large 
congregation of yours. You preach to more people 
than any other pulpit in your city." 

The banker named one of the principal cities in 
the east, and the minister answered, with modest 
pride : "I am not sure of that ; but our Society is 
certainly a very large one." 

" Well, and how many of the lower classes are 
there in it people who work for their living with 
their hands ? " 

The minister stirred uneasily in his chair, and at 
last he said, with evident unhappiness : " They 1 
suppose they have their own churches. I have never 


thought that such a separation of the classes was 
right ; and I have had some of the very best people 
socially and financially with me in the wish that 
there might be more brothcrliness between the rich 
and poor among us. But as yet" 

He stopped ; the banker pursued : "Do you mean 
there are no working-people in your congregation ? " 

" I cannot think of any," returned the minister so 
miserably that the banker forbore to press the point. 

The lawyer broke the awkward pause which fol 
lowed : " I have heard it asserted that there is no 
country in the world, where the separation of the 
classes is so absolute as in ours. In fact, I once 
heard a Russian revolutionist, who had lived in exile 
all over Europe, say that he had never seen anywhere 
such a want of kindness or sympathy between rich 
and poor, as he had observed in America. I doubted 
whether he was right. But he believed that, if it 
ever came to the industrial revolution with us, the 
fight would be more uncompromising than any such 
fight that the world had ever seen. There was no re 
spect from low to high, he said, and no consideration 
from high to low, .as there were in countries with tra 
ditions and old associations." 


" Well," said the banker, " there may be something 
in that. Certainly, so far as the two forces have 
come into conflict here, there has been no disposition, 
on either side, to make war with the water of roses. 
It s astonishing, in fact, to see how ruthless the fel 
lows who have just got up are towards the fellows 
who are still down. And the best of us have been up 
only a generation or two and the fellows who are 
still down know it." 

" And what do you think would be the outcome of 
such a conflict ? " I asked, with my soul divided be 
tween fear of it, and the .perception of its excellence 
as material. My fancy vividly sketched the outline 
of a story which should forecast the struggle and its 
event, somewhat on the plan of the Battle of Dorking. 

" We should beat," said the banker, breaking his 
cigar-ash off with his little finger ; and I instantly cast 
him, with his ironic calm, for the part of a great pa 
trician leader, in my Fall of the Republic. Of course, 
I disguised him somewhat, and travestied his worldly 
bonhomie with the bluff sang-froid of the soldier ; 
these things are easily done. 

" What makes you think we should beat?" asked 
the manufacturer, with a certain curiosity. 


" Well, all the good jingo reasons : we have got the 
materials for beating. Those fellows throw away 
their strength whenever they begin to fight, and 
they ve been so badly generated, up to the present 
time, that they have wanted to fight at the outset of 
every quarrel. They have been beaten in every quar 
rel, but still they always want to begin by fighting. 
That is all right. When they have learned enough 
to begin by voting, then we shall have to look out. 
But if they keep on fighting, and always putting 
themselves in the wrong and getting the worst of it, 
perhaps we can fix the voting so we needn t be any 
more afraid of that than we arc of the fighting. It s 
astonishing how shortsighted they arc. They have 
no conception of any cure for their grievances, except 
more wages and fewer hours." 

"But," I asked, "do you really think they have 
any just grievances ? " 

" Of course not, as a business man," said the ban 
ker. " If I were a workingman, I should probably 
think differently. But we will suppose for the sake 
of argument, that their day is too long and their pay 
is too short. How do they go about to better them 
selves? They strike. Well, a strike is a fight, and 


in a fight, now-a-days, it is always skill and money 
that win. The workingmen can t stop till they have 
put themselves outside of the public sympathy, which 
the newspapers say is so potent in their behalf; I 
never saw that it did them the least good. They be 
gin by boycotting, and breaking the heads of the men 
who want to work. They destroy property, and they 
interfere with business the -two absolutely sacred 
things in the American religion. Then we call out 
the militia, and shoot a few of them, and their leaders 
declare the strike off. It is perfectly simple." 

" But will it be quite as simple," I asked, reluctant 
in behalf of my projected romance, to have the matter 
so soon disposed of, " will it be quite so simple if 
their leaders ever persuade the workingmen to leave 
the militia, as they threaten to do, from time to time ? " 

" No, not quite so simple," the banker admitted. 
" Still, the fight would be comparatively simple. 
In the first place, I doubt though I won t be certain 
about it whether there are a great many workingmen 
in the militia now. I rather fancy it is made up, for 
the most part, of clerks and small tradesmen, and 
book-keepers, and such employees of business as have 
time and money for it. I may be mistaken." 


No one seemed able to say whether he was mistaken 
or not ; and, after waiting a moment, he proceeded : 
" I feel pretty sure that it is so in the city companies 
and regiments, at any rate, and that if every working- 
man left them, it would not seriously impair their 
effectiveness. But when the workingmcn have left 
the militia, what have they done ? They have elim 
inated the only thing that disqualifies it for prompt 
and unsparing use against strikers. As long as they 
are in it, we might have our misgivings, but if they 
were once out of it, we should have none. And what 
would they gain ? They would not be allowed to 
arm and organize as an inimical force. That was 
settled once for all, in Chicago, in the case of the 
International Groups. A .few squads of policemen 
would break them up. Why," the banker exclaimed, 
with his good-humored laugh, " how preposterous 
they arc when you come to look at it ! They are in 
the majority, the immense majority, if you count the 
farmers, and they prefer to behave as if they were the 
hopeless minority. They say they want-an eight-hour 
law, and every now and then they strike, and try to 
fight it. Why don t they vote it ? They could make 
it the law in six months, by such overwhelming num- 


bcrs that no one would dare to evade or defy it. 
They can make any law they want, but they prefer to 
break such laws as we have. That alienates public 
sympathy, the newspapers say, but the spectacle of 
their stupidity and helpless wilfulness is so lamentable 
that I could almost pity them. If they chose, it 
would take only a few years to transform our govern 
ment into the likeness of anything they wanted. But 
they would rather not have what they want, appar 
ently, if they can only keep themselves from getting 
it, and they have to work hard to do that ! " 

" I suppose," I said, "that they are misled by the 
un-American principles and methods of the socialists 
among them." 

" Why, no," returned the banker, " I shouldn t say 
that. As far as I understand it, the socialists are the 
only fellows among them who propose to vote their 
ideas into laws, and nothing can be more American 
than that. I don t believe the socialists stir up the 
strikes, at least among our workingmcn, though the 
newspapers convict them of it, generally without try 
ing them. .The socialists seem to accept the strikes 
as the inevitable outcome of the situation, and they 
make use of them as proofs of the industrial disco n- 


tent. But, luckily for the status, our labor leaders 
are not socialists, for your socialist, whatever you 
may say against him, has generally thought himself 
into a socialist. He knows that until the workingmen 
stop fighting, and get down to voting until they con 
sent to be the majority there is no hope for them. 
I am not talking of anarchists, mind you, but of so 
cialists, whose philosophy is more law, not less, and 
who look forward to an order so just that it can t be 

" And what," the minister faintly said, " do you 
think will be the outcome of it all ? " 

" We had that question the other night, didn t we ? 
Our legal friend, here, seemed to feel that we might 
rub along indefinitely as we are doing, or work out an 
Altruria of our own ; or go back to the patriarchial 
stage, and own our workingmen. He seemed not to 
have so much faith in the logic of events as I have. 
I doubt if it is altogether a woman s logic. Parole 
feminine, fatt i maschi, and the logic of events isn t 
altogether words ; it s full of hard knocks, too. But 
I m no prophet. I can t forecast the future ; I prefer 
to take it as it comes. There s a little tract of Wil 
liam Morris s though I forget just what he calls it 


that is full of curious and interesting speculation 
on this point. lie thinks that if we keep the road we 
are now going, the last state of labor will be like its 
first, and it will be owned." 

" Oh, I don t believe that will ever happen in Amer 
ica," I protested. 

" Why not ? " asked the banker. " Practically, it is 
owned already in a vastly greater measure than we 
recognize. And where Avould the great harm be ? 
The new slavery would not be like the old. There 
needn t be irresponsible whipping and separation of 
families, and private buying and selling. The prole 
tariat would probably be owned by the state, as it 
was at one time in Greece ; or by large corporations, 
which would be much more in keeping with the gen 
ius of our free institutions: and an enlightened public 
opinion would cast safeguards about it in the form of 
law to guard it from abuse. But it would be strictly 
policed, localized, and controlled, there would prob 
ably be less suffering than there is now, when a man 
may be cowed into submission to any terms through 
the suffering of his family ; when he may be starved 
out and turned out if he is unruly. You may be sure 
that nothing of that kind would happen in the new 


slavery. We have not had nineteen hundred years of 
Christianity for nothing." 

The banker paused, and as the silence continued 
he broke it with a laugh, which was a prodigious re 
lief to my feelings, and I suppose to the feelings of all. 
I perceived that he had been joking, and I was con 
firmed in this when he turned to the Altrurian and 
laid his hand upon his shoulder. " You sec," he said, 
" I m a kind of Altrurian myself. What is the reason 
why we should not found a new Altruria here on the 
lines I ve drawn ? Have you never had philosophers 
well, call them philanthropists ; I don t mind of 
my way of thinking among you ? " 

" Oh, yes," said the Altrurian. " At one time, 
just before we emerged from the competitive condi 
tions, there was much serious question whether capital 
should not own labor, instead of labor owning capital. 
That was many hundred years ago." 

"I am proud to find myself such an advanced 
thinker," said the banker. "And how came you to 
decide that labor should own capital ? " 

" We voted it," answered the Altrurian. 

" Well," said the banker, " our fellows are still 
fighting it, and getting beaten." 


I found him later in the evening, talking with Mrs. 
Makely. " My dear sir," I said, " I liked your frank 
ness with my Altrurian friend immensely ; and it 
may be well to put the worst foot foremost ; but what 
is the advantage of not leaving us a leg to stand 
upon ? " 

He was not in the least offended at my boldness, 
as I had feared he might be, but he said with that 
jolly laugh of his, "Capital! Well, perhaps I have 
worked my candor a little too hard ; I suppose there 
is such a thing. But don t you see that it leaves me 
in the best possible position to carry the war into 
Altruria, when we get him to open up about his native 
land ? " 

" Ah ! If you can get him to do it." 

"Well, we were just talking about that. Mrs. 
Makely has a plan." 

" Yes," said the lady, turning an empty chair near 
her own, toward me. " Sit down and listen ! " 


I SAT down, and Mrs. Makely continued : " I have 
thought it all out, and I want you to confess that in 
all practical matters a woman s brain is better than a 
man s. Mr. Bullion, here, says it is, and I want you 
to say so, too." 

" Yes," the banker admitted, " when it comes down 
to business, a woman is worth any two of us." 

" And we have just been agreeing," I coincided, 
" that the only gentlemen among us are women. Mrs. 
Makely, I admit, without further dispute, that the 
most unworldly woman is wordlier than the worldliest 
man ; and that in all practical matters we fade into 
dreamers and doctrinaires beside you. Now, go on !" 

But she did not mean to let me off so easily. She 


began to brag herself up, as women do, whenever you 
make them the slightest concession. 

"Here, you men," she said, "have been trying for 
a whole week to get something out of Mr. Homos 
about his country, and you have left it to a poor, 
weak woman, at last, to think how to manage it. I 
do believe that you get so much interested in your 
own talk, when you are with him, that you don t let 
him get in a word, and that s the reason you haven t 
found out anything about Altruria, yet, from him." 

In view of the manner in which she had cut in at 
Mrs. Camp s, and stopped Homos on the very verge 
of the only full and free confession he had ever been 
near making about Altruria, I thought this was pretty 
cool, but, for fear of worse, I said : 

" You re quite right, Mrs. Makely. I m sorry to 
say that there has been a shameful want of self-con 
trol among us, and that, if we learn anything at all 
from him, it will be because you have taught us how." 

She could not resist this bit of taffy. She scarcely 
gave herself time to gulp it, before she said : 

" Oh, it s very well to say that, now ! But where 
would you have been, if I hadn t set my wits to work? 
Now, listen ! It just popped into my mind, like an 


inspiration, when I was thinking of something alto 
gether different. It flashed upon me in an instant : a 
good object, and a public occasion." 

" Well ?" I said, finding this explosive and electri 
cal inspiration rather enigmatical. 

" Why, you know, the Union chapel, over in the 
village, is in a languishing condition, and the ladies 
have been talking all summer about doing something 
for it, getting up something a concert, or theatricals, 
or a dance, or something and applying the proceeds 
to repainting and papering the- visible church ; it needs 
it dreadfully. But, of couie, those things arc not 
exactly religious, don t you know; and a fair is so 
much trouble ; and such a bore, when you get the arti 
cles ready, even ; and everybody feels swindled ; and 
now people frown on raffles, so there is no use think 
ing of them. AVhat you want is something striking. 
"VVe did think of a parlor-reading, or perhaps ventril 
oquism ; but the performers all charge so much that 
there wouldn t be anything left after paying expenses." 

She seemed to expect some sort of prompting at 
this point ; so I said, " Well ? " 

" Well," she repeated, " that is just where your 
Mr. Homos comes in." 


" Oh ! How docs he come in there ? " 

" Why, get him to deliver a Talk on Altruria. As 
soon as he knows it s for a good object, he will be on 
fire to do it ; and they must live so much in common 
there, that the public occasion will be just the thing 
that will appeal to him." 

It did seem a good plan to me, and I said so. But 
Mrs. Makcly was so much in love with it, that she 
was not satisfied with my modest recognition. 

" Good ? It s magnificent ! It s the very thing ! 
And I have thought it out, down to the last detail" 

" Excuse me ! " I interrupted. " Do you think 
there is sufficient general interest in the subject, out 
side of the hotel, to get a full house for him ? I 
shouldn t like to see him subjected to the mortifica 
tion of empty benches." 

" What in the world are you thinking of ? Why, 
there isn t a farm-house, anywhere within ten miles, 
where they haven t heard of Mr. Homos ; and there 
isn t a servant under this roof, or in any of the board 
ing-houses, who doesn t know something about Altru 
ria and want to know more. It seems that your 
friend has been much oftener with the porters and 
the stable boys than he has been with us." 


I had only too great reason to fear so. In spite of 
my warnings and entreaties, he had continued to 
behave toward every human being he met, exactly as 
if they were equals, lie apparently could not con 
ceive of that social difference which difference of 
occupation creates among us. He owned that he saw 
it, and from the talk of our little group, he knew it 
existed ; but when I expostulated with him upon some 
act in gross violation of society usage, he only 
answered that he could not imagine that what he saw 


and knew could actually be. It was quite impossible 
to keep him from bowing with the greatest deference 
to our waitress ; he shook hands with the head waiter 
every morning as well as with me ; there was a fearful 
story current in the house, that he had been seen run 
ning down one of the corridors to relieve a chamber 
maid laden with tyo heavy waterpails, which she was 
carrying to the rooms to fill up the pitchers. This 
was probably not true, but I myself saw him helping 
in the hotel hayficld one afternoon, shirt-sleeved like 
any of the hired men. lie said that it was the best 
possible exercise, and that lie was ashamed he could 
give no better excuse for it than the fact that without 
something of the kind he should suffer from indigcs- 


tion. It was grotesque, and out of all keeping with a 
man of his cultivation and breeding. He was a gen 
tleman and a scholar, there was no denying, and yet 
he did things in contravention of good form at every 
opportunity, and nothing I could say had any effect 
with him. I was perplexed beyond measure, the day 
after I had reproached him for his labor in the hay- 
field, to find him in a group of table-girls, who were 
listening while the head waiter read aloud to them in 
the shade of the house ; there was a corner looking 
toward the stables which was given up to them by 
tacit consent of the guests during a certain part of the 
afternoon. I feigned not to see him, but I could not 
forbear speaking to him about it afterwards. He took 
it in good part, but he said he had been rather disap 
pointed in the kind of literature they liked, and the 
comments they made on it ; he had expected that with 
the education they had received, and with their ex 
perience of the seriousness o^ life, they would prefer 
something less trivial. He supposed, however, that a 
romantic love story, where a poor American girl mar 
ries an English lord, formed a refuge for them from 
the real world which promised them so little and. held 
them so cheap. It was quite useless for one to try to 


make him realize his behavior in consorting with ser 
vants as a kind of scandal. 

The worst of it was that his behavior, as I could 
see, had already begun to demoralize the objects of 
his misplaced politeness. At first, the servants stared 
and resented it, as if it were some tasteless joke ; but 
in an incredibly short time, when they saw that he 
meant his courtesy in good faith they took it as their 
due. I had always had a good understanding with 
the head waiter, and I thought I could safely smile 
witli him at the queer conduct of my friend toward 
himself and his fellow servants. To my astonishment 
he said, " I don t see why he shouldn t treat them as 
if they were ladies and gentlemen. Doesn t he treat 
you and your friends so ? " 

It was impossible to answer this, and I could only 
suffer in silence, and hope the Altrurian would soon 
go. I had dreaded the moment when the landlord 
should tell me that his room was wanted ; now I al 
most desired it, but he never did. On the contrary, 
the Altrurian was in high favor with him. lie said 
he liked to see a man make himself pleasant with ev 
erybody ; and that he did not believe he had ever had 
a guest in the house who was so popular all round. 


"Of course," Mrs. Makely went on, "I don t criti 
cise him with his peculiar traditions. I presume I 
should be just so myself if I had been brought up in 
Altruria, which thank goodness, I wasn t. But Mr. 
Homos is a perfect dear, and all the women in the 
house are in love with him, from the cook s helpers, 
up and down. No, the only danger is that there 
won t be room in the hotel parlors for all the people 
that will want to hear him, and we shall have to make 
the admission something that will be prohibitive in 
most cases. We shall have to make it a dollar." 

" Well," I said, " I think that will settle the ques 
tion as far as the farming population is concerned. 
It s twice as much as they ever pay for a reserved 
seat in the circus, and four times as much as a simple 
admission. I m afraid, Mrs. Makely, you re going to 
be very few, though fit." 

" Well, I ve thought it all over, and I m going to 
put the tickets at one dollar." 

" Very good. Have you caught your hare ? " 

" No, I haven t, yet. And I want you to help me 
catch him. What do you think is the best way to go 
about it ?" 

The banker said he would leave us to the discussion 


of that question, but Mrs. Makely could count upon 
him in every tiling, if she could only get the man to 
talk. At the end of our conference we decided to 
interview the Altrurian together. 


I shall always be ashamed of the way that woman 
wheedled the Altrurian, when we found him the next 
morning, walking up and clown the piazza, before 
breakfast. That is, it was before our breakfast ; when 
we asked him to go in with us, he said he had just 
had his breakfast, and was waiting for Reuben Camp, 
who had promised to take him up as he passed with 
a load of hay for one of the hotels in the village. 

" Ah, that reminds me, Mr. Homos, the unscru 
pulous woman began on him, at once. " We want to 
interest you in a little movement we re getting up for 
the Union chapel in the village. You know it s the 
church where all the different sects have their services, 
alternately. Of course, it s rather an original way of 
doing, but there is sense in it where the people are 
too poor to go into debt for different churches, and " 

" It s admirable ! " said the Altrurian. " I have 
heard about it from the Camps. It is an emblem of 
the unity which ought to prevail among Christians of 

all professions. How can I help yon, Mrs. Makely ? " 


" I knew you would approve of it ! " she cxultied. 
" Well, it s simply this : The poor little place has got 
so shabby that Tm almost ashamed to be seen going 
into it, for one ; and want to raise money enough to 
give it a new coat of paint outside and put on some 
kind of pretty paper, of an ecclesiastical pattern, on 
the inside. I declare, those staring white walls, 
with the cracks in the plastering zigzagging every 
ivhich way, distract me so that I can t put my mind 
on the sermon. Don t you think that paper, say of 
a gothic design, would be a great improvement? I m 
sure it would ; and it s Mr. Twelvemough s idea, too." 

I learned this fact now for the first time ; but, with 
Mrs. Makely s warning eye upon me, I could not say 
so, and I made what sounded to me like a gothic 
murmur of acquiescence. It sufficed for Mrs.* Make- 
Jy s purpose, at any rate, and she went on, without 
giving the Altrurian a chance to say what he thought 
the educational effect of wall paper would be : 

" Well, the long and short of it is that we want you 
to make this money for us, Mr. Homos." 

" I ? " lie started in a kind of horror. " My dear 
lady, I never made any money in my life ! I should 
think it wrony to make money ! " 


" In Altruria, yes. We all know how it is in your 
delightful country, and I assure you that no one could 
respect your conscientious scruples more than I do. 
But you must remember that you are in America, 
now. In America you have to make money, or else 
get left. And then you must consider the object, 
and all the good you can do, indirectly, by a little 
Talk on Altruria." 

He answered, blandly : " A little Talk on Altruria ? 
How in the world should I get money by that ? " 

She was only too eager to explain, and she did it 
with so much volubility and at such great length, that 
I, who am good for nothing till I have had my cup of 
coffee in the morning, almost perished of an elucida 
tion which the Altrurian bore with the sweetest 

When she gave him a chance to answer, at last, he 
said " I shall be very happy to do what you wish, 

" Will you ? " she screamed. " Oh, I m so glad ! 
You have been so slippery about Altruria, you know, 
that I expected nothing but a point-blank refusal. 
Of course, I knew you would be kind about it. Oh, 
I can hardly believe my senses ! You can t think 


what a dear you are." I knew she had got that word 
from some English people who had been in the hotel ; 
and she was working it rather wildly, but it was not 
my business to check her. " Well, then, all you have 
got to do is to leave the whole thing to me, and not 
bother about it a bit till I send and tell you we are 
ready to listen. There comes Reuben with his ox- 
team ! Thank you so much, Mr. Homos. No one 
need be ashamed to enter the house of God " she 
said Gawd, in an access of piety " after we get that 
paint and paper on it ; and we shall have them on be 
fore two Sabbaths have passed over it." 

She wrung the Altrurian s hand ; I was only afraid 
she was going to kiss him. 

" There is but one atipulation I should like to 
make," he began. 

"Oh, a thousand," she cut in. 

"And that is, there shall be no exclusion from my 
lecture on account of occupation or condition. That 
is a thing that I can in no wise countenance, even in 
America ; it is far more abhorrent to me even than 
money-making, though they are each a part and parcel 
of the other." 

" I thought it was that ! " she retorted joyously. 


" And I can assure you, Mr. Homos, there shall be 
nothing of that kind. Every one I don t care who 
it is, or what they do shall hear you who buys a 
ticket. Now, will that do ? " 

" Perfectly," said the Altrurian, and he let her 
wring his hand again. 

She pushed hers through my arm as we started for 
the dining-room, and leaned over to whisper jubil 
antly : " That will fix it ! He will see how much his 
precious lower classes care for Altruria if they have 
to pay a dollar apiece to "hear about it. And I shall 
keep faith with him to the letter." 

I could not feel that she would keep it in the 
spirit ; but I could only groan inwardly and chuckle 
outwardly at the woman s depravity. 

It seemed to me, though I could not approve of it, 
a capital joke, and so it seemed to all the members of 
the little group whom I had made especially ac 
quainted with the Altrurian. It is true that the 
minister was somewhat troubled with the moral ques 
tion, which did not leave me wholly at peace ; and the 
banker affected to find a question of taste involved, 
which he said he must let me settle, however, as the 
man s host ; if I could stand it, he could. No one 


said anything against the plan to Mrs. Makcly, and 
this energetic woman made us take two tickets apiece, 
as soon as she got them printed, over in the village. 
She got little hand-bills printed, and had them scat 
tered about through the neighborhood, at all the 
hotels, boarding-houses and summer cottages, to give 
notice of the time and place of the talk on Altruria. 
She fixed this for the following Saturday afternoon, 
in our hotel parlor ; she had it in the afternoon so as 
not to interfere with the hop in the evening ; she put 
tickets on sale at the principal houses, and at the 
village drug-store, and she made me go about with her 
and help her sell them at some of the cottages in per 

I must say I found this extremely distasteful, 
especially where the people were not very willing to 
buy, and she had to urge them. They all admitted 
the excellence of the object, but they were not so sure 
about the means. At several places the ladies asked 
who was this Mr. Homos, anyway ; and how did she 
know he was really from Altruria ? He might be an 

Then Mrs. Makely would put me forward, and I 
would be obliged to give such account of him as I 


could, and to explain just how and why he came to be 
my guest ; with the cumulative effect of bringing back 
all the misgivings which I had myself felt at the out 
set concerning him, and which I had dissmissed as 
too fantastic. 

The tickets went off rather slowly, even in our own 
hotel ; people thought them too dear ; and some, as 
soon as they knew the price, said frankly they had 
heard enough about Altruria already, and were sick 
of the whole thinij. 


Mrs. Makely said this Avas quite what she had ex 
pected of those people ; that they were horrid, and 
stingy and vulgar ; and she should see what face they 
would have to ask her to take tickets when they were 
trying to get up something. She began to be vexed 
with herself, she confessed, at the joke she was play 
ing on Mr. Homos, and I noticed that she put herself 
rather defiantly en evidence in his company, whenever 
she could in the presence of these reluctant ladies. 
She told me she had not the courage to ask the clerk 
how many of the tickets he had sold out of those she 
had left at the desk. One morning, the third or 
fourth, as I was going in to breakfast with her, the 
head waiter stopped her as he opened the door, and 


asked modestly if she could spare him a few tickets, 
for he thought he could sell some. To my amazement 
the unprincipled creature said, " Why, certainly. 
How many ? " and instantly took a package out of her 
pocket, where she seemed always to have them. He 
asked, Would twenty be more than she could spare ? 
and she answered, " Not at all ! Here are twenty- 
five," and bestowed the whole package upon him. 

That afternoon Reuben Camp came lounging up 
toward us, where I sat with her on the corner of the 
piazza, and said that if she would like to let him try 
his luck with some tickets for the Talk he would see 
what he could do. 

" You can have all you want, Reuben," she said, 
u and I hope you ll have better luck than I have. 
I m perfectly disgusted with people." 

She fished several packages out of her pocket this 
time, and he asked, " Do you mean that I can have 
them all ? " 

" Every one, and a band of music into the bar 
gain" she answered recklessly. But she seemed a 
little daunted when he quietly took them. " You 
know there are a hundred here ? " 

" Yes, I should like to see what I can do amongst 


the natives. Then, there is a construction train over 
at the junction, and I know a lot of the fellows. I 
guess some of em would like to come." 

" The tickets are a dollar each, you know," she 

" That s all right," said Camp. " Well, good after 

Mrs. Makely turned to me with a kind of gasp, as 
he shambled away. " I don t know about that ! " 

" About having the whole crew of a construction 
train at the Talk ? I dare say it won t be pleasant to 
the ladies who have bought tickets." 

" Oh ! " said Mrs. Makely with astonishing con- 
tepmt, " I don t care what they think. But Reuben 
has got all my tickets, and suppose he keeps them so 
long that I won t have time to sell any, and then throws 
them back on my hands ? / know ! she added joy 
ously. " I can go around now, and tell people that 
my tickets are all gone ; and I ll go instantly and have 
the clerk hold all he has left at a premium." 

She came back looking rather blank. 

" He hasn t got a single one left. He says an old 
native came in this morning and took every last one 
of them he doesn t remember just how many. I 


believe they re going to speculate on them ; and if 
Reuben Camp serves me a trick like that Why ! " 
she broke off, " I believe I ll speculate on them my 
self ! I should like to know why I shouldn t ! Oh, 
I should just like to make some of those creatures pay 
double, or treble, for the chances they ve refused. Ah, 
Mrs. Bulkham," she called out to a lady who was 
coming down the veranda toward us, " you ll be glad 
to know I ve got rid of all my tickets ! Such a 
relief ! " 

"You have?" Mrs. Bulkham retorted. 

" Every one." 

" I thought," said Mrs. Bulkham, " that you under 
stood I wanted one for my daughter and myself, if 
she came." 

" I certainly didn t," said Mrs. Makcly, with a wink 
of concentrated wickedness at me. " But if you do, 
you will have to say so now, without any ifs or ands 
about it ; and if any of the tickets come back I let 
friends have a few on sale I will give you two." 

" Well, I do," said Mrs. Bulkham, after a moment. 

11 Very well, it will be five dollars for the two. I 
feel bound to get all I can for the cause. Shall I put 
your name down ? " 


" Yes," said Mrs. Bulkham, rather crossly ; but 
Mrs. Makely inscribed her name on her tablets with a 
radiant amiability, which suffered no eclipse when, 
within the next fifteen minutes, a dozen other ladies 
hurried up, and bought in at the same rate. 

I could not stand it, and I got up to go away, 
feeling extremely particeps criminis. Mrs. Makely 
seemed to have a conscience as light as air. 

" If Reuben Camp or the head waiter don t bring 
back some of those tickets I don t know what I shall 
do. I shall have to put chairs into the isles, and 
charge five dollars apiece for as many people as I can 
crowd in there. I never knew anything so perfectly 

" I envy you the ability to see it in that light, Mrs. 
Makely," I said, faint at heart. " Suppose Camp 
crowds the place full of his train men, how will the 
ladies that you ve sold tickets to at five dollars apiece 
like it ? " 

" Pooh ! What do I care how they like it ! Horrid 
things ! And for repairs on the house of Gawd, it s 
the same as being in church, where everybody is 

The time passed. Mrs. Makely sold chances to all 


the ladies in the house ; on Friday night Reuben Camp 
brought her a hundred dollars ; the head waiter had 
already paid in twenty-five. " I didn t dare to ask 
them if they speculated on them," she confided to 
me. " Do you suppose they would have the con 
science ? " 

They had secured the large parlor of the hotel, 
where the young people danced in the evening, and 
where entertainments were held, of the sort usually 
given in summer hotels ; we had already had a dra 
matic reading, a time with the phonograph, an 
exhibition of necromancy, a concert by a college glee 
club, and I do not know what else. The room would 
hold perhaps two hundred people, if they were closely 
seated, and by her own showing, Mrs. Makely had 
sold above two hundred and fifty tickets and chances. 
All Saturday forenoon she consoled herself with the 
belief that a great many people at the other hotels 
and cottages had bought scats merely to aid the 
cause, and would not really come ; she estimated that 
at least fifty would stay away : but if Reuben Camp 
had sold his tickets among the natives, we might 
expect every one of them to come and get his money s 
worth ; she did not dare to ask the head waiter how 
he had got rid of his twenty-five tickets. 


The hour set for the Talk to begin was three 
o clock, so that people could have their naps comfort 
ably over, after the one o clock dinner, and be just in 
the right frame of mind for listening. But long 
before the appointed time, the people who dine at 
twelve, and never take an afternoon nap, began to 
arrive, on foot, in farm -wagons, smart buggies, mud- 
crusted carryalls, and all manner of ramshackle 
vehicles. They arrived as if coming to a circus, old 
husbands and wives, young couples and their children, 
pretty girls and their fellows, and hitched their 
horses to the tails of their wagons, and began to make 
a picnic lunch in the shadow of the grove lying 
between the hotel and the station. About two, we 
heard the snorting of a locomotive at a time when no 
train was due, and a construction train came in view, 
with the men waving their handkerchiefs from the 
windows, and apparently ready for all the fun there 
was to be in the thing. Some of them had a small 
flag in each hand, the American stars and stripes, and 
the white flag of Altruria, in compliment to my guest, 
I suppose. A good many of the farmers came over 
to the hotel to buy tickets, which they said they 
expected to get after they came, and Mrs. Makcly 


was obliged to pacify them with all sorts of lying 
promises. From moment to moment she was in con- 
saltation with the landlord, who decided to throw 
open the dining-room, which connected with the 
parlor, so as to allow the help and the neighbors to 
hear, without incommoding the hotel guests. She 
said that this took a great burden off her mind, and 
that now she should feel perfectly easy, for now no 
one could complain about being mixed up with the 
servants and the natives, and yet every one could 
hear perfectly. 

She could not rest until she had sent for Homos 
and told him of this admirable arrangement. I did 
not know whether to be glad or not, when he in 
stantly told her that, if there was to be any such sep 
aration of his auditors, in recognition of our class 
distinctions, he must refuse to speak at all. 

11 Then, what in the world are we to do ? " she 
wailed out, and the tears came into her eyes. 

" Have you got the money for all your tickets ? " 
he asked with a sort of disgust for the whole trans 
action in his tone. 

" Yes, and more, too. I don t believe there s a 
soul, in the hotel or out of it that hasn t paid at least 


a dollar to hear you : and that makes it so very em 
barrassing. Oh, dear Mr. Homos ! You won t be so 
implacably high-principled as all that ! Think that 
you are doing- it for the house of Gawd." 

The woman made me sick. 

" Then, no one," said the Altrurian, " can feel 
aggrieved, or unfairly used, if I say what I have to 
say in the open air, where all can listen equally, 
without any manner of preference or distinction. We 
will go up to the edge of the grove over-looking the 
tennis-court, and hold our meeting there, as the Altru 
rian meetings arc always held, with the sky for a 
roof, and with no walls but the horizon." 

" The very thing ! " cried Mrs. Makcly. "Who 
would ever have thought you were so practical, Mr. 
Homos ? I don t believe you re an Altrurian, after all : 
I believe you are an American in disguise." 

The Altrurian turned away, without making any 
response to this flattering attribution of our national 
ity to him ; but Mrs. Makcly had not waited for any. 
She had flown off, and I next saw her attacking the 
landlord, with such apparent success, that he slapped 
himself on the leg and vanished, and immediately the 
porters and bell-boys and all the men-servants began 


carrying out chairs to the tennis-court, which was 
already well set round with benches. In a little 
while the whole space was covered, and settees were 
placed well up the ground toward the grove. 

By half past two, the guests of the hotel came out, 
and took the best seats, as by right, and the different 
tallyhoes and mountain wagons began to arrive from 
the other liotels, with their silly hotel cries, and their 
gay groups dismounted and dispersed themselves 
over the tennis court until all the chairs were taken. 
It was fine to see how the natives and the trainmen 
and the hotel servants, with an instinctive perception 
of the proprieties, yielded these places to their 
superiors, and, after the summer folks were all seated, 
scattered themselves on the grass and the pine-needles 
about the border of the grove. I should have liked 
to instance the fact to the Altrurian, as a proof that 
this sort of subordination was a part of human nature, 
and that a principle which pervaded our civilization, 
after the democratic training of our whole national 
life, must be divinely implanted. But there Avas no 
opportunity for me to speak with him after the fact 
had accomplished itself, for by this time he had taken 
his place in front of a little clump of low pines and 


was waiting for the assembly to quiet itself before lie 
began to speak. I do not think there could have 
been less than five hundred present, and the scene 
had that accidental picturesqueness which results from 
the grouping of all sorts of faces and costumes. 
Many of our ladies had pretty hats and brilliant 
parasols, but I must say that the soberer tone of 
some of the old farm-wives brown calicoes and out 
dated bonnets contributed to enrich the coloring, and 
there was a certain gaycty in the sunny glisten of the 
men s straw-hats, everywhere, that was very good. 

The sky overhead was absolutely stainless, and the 
light of the cool afternoon sun dreamed upon the 
slopes of the solemn mountains to the cast. The tall 
pines in the background blackened themselves against 
the horizon ; nearer they showed more and more 
decidedly their bluish green, and the yellow of the 
newly-fallen needles painted their aisles deep into the 
airy shadows. 

A little wind stirred their tops, and for a moment, 
just before the Altrurian began to speak, drew from 
them an organ-tone that melted delicately away as his 

powerful voice rose. 


" I COULD not give you a clear account of the 
present state of things in my country," the Altrurian 
began, " without first telling you something of our 
conditions before the time of our Evolution. It seems 
to be the law of all life, that nothing can come to 
fruition without dying and seeming to make an end. 
It must be sown in corruption before it can be raised 
in incorruption. The truth itself must perish to our 
senses before it can live to our souls ; the Son of Man 
must suffer upon the cross before we can know the 
Son of God. 

" It was so with His message to the world, which 
we received in the old time as an ideal realized by the 
earliest Christians, who loved one another and who 


had all things common. The apostle cast away upon 
our heathen coasts, won us with the story of this first 
Christian republic, and he established a commonwealth 
of peace and goodwill among us in its likeness. Thf.t, 
commonwealth perished, just as its prototype perished, 
or seemed to perish ; and long ages of civic and eco 
nomic warfare succeeded, when every man s hand was 
against his neighbor, and might was the rule that got 
itself called right. Religion ceased to be the hope of 
this world, and became the vague promise of the next. 
We descended into the valley of the shadow, and 
dwelt amid chaos for ages, before v:c groped again 
into the light. 

" The first glimmerings were few and indistinct, 
but men formed themselves about the luminous points 
here and there, and when these broke and dispersed 
into lesser gleams, still men formed themselves about 
each of them. The"e arose a system of things, 
better, indeed, than darkness, but full of war, 
and lust, and greed, in which the weak rendered hom 
age to the strong, and served them in the field and in 
the camp, and the strong in turn gave the weak pro 
tection against the other strong. It was a juggle in 
which the weak did not see that their safety was 


after all from themselves ; but it was an image of 
peace, however false and fitful, and it endured for a 
time. It endured for a limited time, if we measure 
by the life of the race ; it endured for an unlimited 
time if we measure by the lives of the men who were 
born and died while it endured. 

" But that disorder, cruel and fierce and stupid, 
which endured because it sometimes masked itself as 
order, did at last pass away. Here and there one of 
the strong overpowered the rest ; then the strong be 
came fewer and fewer, and in their turn they all 
yielded to a supreme lord, and throughout the land 
there was one rule, as it was called then, or one mis 
rule, as we should call it now. This rule, or this 
misrule, continued for ages more ; and again, in the 
immortality of the race, men toiled and struggled, and 
died without the hope of better things. 

"Then the time came whc 1 ". the long nightmare 
was burst with the vision of a future in which all 
men were the law, and not one man, or any less num 
ber of men than all. 

" The poor, dumb beast of humanity rose, and the 
throne tumbled, and the scepter was broken, and the 
crown rolled away into that darkness of the past. 


We thought that heaven had descended to us, and 
that liberty, equality and fraternity were ours. We 
could not sec what should again alienate us from one 
another, or how one brother could again oppress an 
other. With a free field and no favor, we believed 
we should prosper on together, and there would be 
peace and plenty for all. We had the republic, 
again, after so many ages now, and the republic, as 
we knew it in our dim annals, was brotherhood and 
universal happiness. All but a very few who proph 
esied evil of our lawless freedom, were wrapped in 
a delirium of hope. Men s minds and men s hands 
were suddenly released to an activity unheard of be 
fore. Invention followed invention ; our rivers and 
seas became the warp of commerce where the steam- 
sped shuttles carried the woof of enterprise to and 
fro with tireless celerity. Machines to save labor 
multiplied themselves as if they had been procreative 
forces ; and wares of every sort were produced with 
incredible swiftness and cheapness. Money seemed 
to flow from the ground \ vast fortunes * rose like an 
exhalation/ as your Milton says. 

" At first we did not know that they were the 
breath of the nethermost pits of hell, and that the 


love of money which was becoming universal with us, 
was filling the earth with the hate of men. It was 
long before we came to realize that in the depths of 
our steamships were those who fed the fires with their 
lives, and that our mines from which we dug our 
wealth were the graves of those who had died to the 
free light and air, without finding the rest of death. 
We did not see that the machines for saving labor 
were monsters that devoured women and children, 
and wasted men at the bidding of the power which no 
man must touch. 

" That is, we thought we must not touch it, for it 
called itself prosperity, and wealth, and the public 
good, and it said that it gave bread, and it impudently 
bade the toiling myriads consider what would become 
of them, if it took away their means of wearing them 
selves out in its service. It demanded of the state 
absolute immunity and absolute impunity, the right 
to do its will wherever and however it would, without 
question from the people who were the final law. It 
had its way, and under its rule we became the richest 
people under the sun. The Accumulation, as we 
called this power, because we feared to call it by its 
true name, rewarded its own with gains of twenty, of 


a hundred, of a thousand per cent., and to satisfy its 
need, to produce the labor that operated its machines, 
there came into existence a hapless race of men who 
bred their kind for its service, and whose little ones 
were its prey almost from their cradles. Then the 
infamy became too great, and the law, the voice of 
the people, so long guiltily silent, was lifted in behalf 
of those who had no helper. The Accumulation came 
under control, for the first time, and could no longer 
work its slaves twenty hours a day amid perils to life 
and limb from its machinery and in conditions that 
forbade them decency and morality. The time of a 
hundred and a thousand per cent, passed; but still 
the Accumulation demanded immunity and impunity, 
and in spite of its conviction of the enormities it had 
practiced, it declared itself the only means of civiliza 
tion and progress. It began to give out that it was 
timid, though its history was full of the boldest frauds 
and crimes, and it threatened to withdraw itself if it 
were ruled or even crossed ; and again it had its way, 
and we seemed to prosper more and more. The land 
was filled with cities where the rich flaunted their 
splendor in palaces, and the poor swarmed in squalid 
tenements. The country was drained of its life and 


force, to feed the centers of commerce and industry. 
The whole land was bound together with a network 
of iron roads that linked the factories and foundries 
to the fields and mines, and blasted the landscape 
with the enterprise that spoiled the lives of men. 

"Then, all at once, when its work seemed perfect 
and its dominion sure, the Accumulation was stricken 
with consciousness of the lie always at its heart. It 
had hitherto cried out for a free field and no favor, 
for unrestricted competition ; but, in truth, it had 
never prospered, except as a monopoly. Whenever 
and wherever competition had play, there had been 
nothing but disaster to the rival enterprises, till one 
rose over the rest. Then there was prosperity for 
that one. 

"The Accumulation began to act upon its new 
consciousness. The iron roads united ; the warring 
industries made peace, each kind under a single lead 
ership. Monopoly, not competition, was seen to be 
the beneficent means of distributing the favors and 
blessings of the Accumulation to mankind. But as 
before, there was alternately a glut and dearth of 
things, and it often happened that when starving men 
went ragged through the streets, the storehouses were 


piled full of rotting harvests that the farmers toiled 
from dawn till dusk to grow, and the warehouses fed 
the moth with the stuffs that the operative had woven 
his life into at his loom. Then followed, with a blind 
and mad succession, a time of famine, when money 
could not buy the superabundance that vanished, none 
knew how or why. 

" The money itself vanished from time to time, and 
disappeared into the vaults of the Accumulation, for 
no better reason than that for which it poured itself 
out at other times. Our theory was that the people, 
that is to say the government of the people, made the 
people s money, but, as a matter of fact, the Accumu 
lation made it, and controlled it, and juggled with it; 
and now you saw it, and now you did not see it. 
The government made gold coins, but the people had 
nothing but the paper money that the Accumulation 
made. But whether there was scarcity or plenty, the 
failures went on with a continuous ruin that nothing 
could check, while our larger economic life proceeded 
in a series of violent shocks, which we called 
financial panics, followed by long periods of exhaus 
tion and recuperation. There was no law in our 
economy, but as the Accumulation had never cared 


for the nature of law, it did not trouble itself for its 
name in our order of things. It had always bought 
the law it needed for its own use, first through the 
voter at the polls in the more primitive days, and 
then, as civilization advanced, in the legislatures and 
the courts. But the corruption even of these methods 
was far surpassed when the era of consolidation came, 
and the necessity for statutes and verdicts and 
decisions became more stringent. Then we had such 
a burlesque of " 

" Look here ! " a sharp nasal voice snarled across 
the rich, full pipe of the Altrurian, and we all 
instantly looked there. The voice came from an old 
farmer, holding himself stiffly up, with his hands in 
his pockets and his lean frame bent toward the 
speaker. " When are you goin to get to Altrury ? 
We know all about Ameriky." 

He sat down again, and it was a moment before 
the crowd caught on. Then a yell of delight and a 
roar of volleyed laughter went up from the lower 
classes, in which, I am sorry to say, my friend, the 
banker, joined, so far as the laughter was concerned. 
* Good ! That s it ! First-rate ! " came from a hundred 
vulgar throats. 


" Isn t it a perfect shame ? " Mrs. Makely de- 
manded. " I think some of you gentlemen ought to 
say something ! What will Mr. Homos think of our 
civilization if we let such interruptions go unre- 
buked ! " 

She was sitting between the banker and myself, 
and her indignation made him laugh more and more. 
" Oh, it serves him right," he said. Don t you see 
that he is hoist with his own petard ? Let him alone. 
He s in the hands of his friends." 

The Altrurian waited for the tumult to die away, 
and then he said gently : I don t understand." 

The old farmer jerked himself to his feet again : 
" It s like this : I paid my dolla to hear about a 
country where there wa n t no cooperations, nor no 
monop lies, nor no buyin up cou ts ; and I ain t 
agoin to have no allegory shoved down my throat, 
instead of a true history, noways. I know all about 
how it is here. Fi st, run their line through your 
backya d, and then kill off your cattle, and keep 
kerryin on it up from cou t to cou t, till there ain t 
hide or hair oh em left 

" Oh, set down, set down ! Let the man go on ! 
He ll make it all right with you," one of the construe- 


tion gang called out; but the farmer stood his ground, 
and I could hear him through the laughing and shout 
ing, keep saying something from time to time, about 
not wanting to pay no dolla for no talk about co pera- 
tions and monop lies that we had right under our own 
noses the whole while, and you might say, in your 
very bread troughs ; till, at last, I saw Reuben Camp 
make his way towards him, and, after an energetic 
expostulation, turn to leave him again. 

Then he faltered out, " I guess it s all right," and 
dropped out of sight in the group he had risen from. 
I fancied his wife scolding him there, and all but 
shaking him in public. 

"I should be very sorry," the Altrurian proceeded, 
" to have anyone believe that I have not been giving 
you a bona fide account of conditions in my country 
before the Evolution, when we first took the name of 
Altruria in our great, peaceful campaign against the 
Accumulation. As for offering you any allegory or 
travesty of your own conditions, I will simply say 
that I do not know them well enough to do so intelli 
gently. But, whatever they are, God forbid that the 
likeness which you seem to recognize should ever go 
so far as the desperate state of things which we 


finally reached. I will not trouble you with details ; 
in fact, I have been afraid that I had already treated 
of our affairs too abstractly ; but, since your own ex 
perience furnishes you the means of seizing my mean 
ing, I will go on as before. 

" You will understand me when I explain that the 
Accumulation had not erected itself into the sov 
ereignty, with us unopposed. The workingmen who 
suffered most from its oppression had early begun to 
band themselves against it, with the instinct of self- 
preservation, first trade by trade, and art by art, and 
then in congresses and federations of the trades and 
arts, until finally they enrolled themselves in one vast 
union, which included all the workingmen whom 
their necessity or their interest did not leave on the 
side of the Accumulation. This beneficent and gen 
erous association of the weak for the sake of the 
weakest did not accomplish itself fully till the baleful 
instinct of the Accumulation had reduced the mo 
nopolies to one vast monopoly, till the stronger had 
devoured the weaker among its members, and the 
supreme agent stood at the head of our affairs, in 
everything but name, our imperial ruler. We had 
hugged so long the delusion of each man for himself, 


that we bad suffered all realty to be taken from us. 
The Accumulation owned the land as well as the 
mines under it and the shops over it ; the Accumula 
tion owned the seas and the ships that sailed the 
seas, and the fish that swam in their depths ; it owned 
transportation and distribution, and the wares and 
products that were to be carried to and fro ; and by a 
logic irresistible and inexorable, the Accumulation 
was, and we were not. 

" But the Accumulation, too, had forgotten some 
thing. It had found it so easy to buy legislatures 
and courts, that it did not trouble itself about the 
polls. It left us the suffrage, and let us amuse our 
selves with the periodical election of the political clay 
images which it manipulated and moulded to any 
shape and effect, at its pleasure. The Accumulation 
knew that it was the sovereignty, whatever figure-head 
we called president, or governor, or mayor : we had 
other names for these officials, but I use their ana 
logues for the sake of clearness, and I hope my good 
friend over there will not think I am still talking 
about America." 

No," the old farmer called back, without rising, 
" we hain t got there, quite, yit." 


" No hurry," said a trainman. " All in good time. 
Go on ! " he called to the Altrurian. 

The Altrurian resumed : 

" There had been, from the beginning, an almost 
ceaseless struggle between the Accumulation and the 
proletariate. The Accumulation always said that it 
was the best friend of the proletariate, and it de 
nounced, through the press which it controlled, the 
proletarian leaders who taught that it was the enemy 
of the proletariat, and who stirred up strikes and 
tumults of all sorts, for higher wages and fewer hours. 
But the friend of the proletariat, whenever occasion 
served, treated the proletariat like a deadly enemy. 
In seasons of over-production, as it was called, it 
locked the workmen out, or laid them off, and left 
their families to starve, or ran light work, and claimed 
the credit of public benefactors for running at all. It 
sought every chance to reduce wages; it had laws 
passed to forbid or cripple the workmen in their 
strikes ; and the judges convicted them of conspiracy, 
and wrested the statutes to their hurt, in cases where 
there had been no thought of embarrassing them, even 
among the legislators. God forbid that you should 
ever come to such a pass in America ; but, if you ever 


should, God grant that you may find your way out as 
simply as we did at test, when freedom had perished 
in everything but name among us, and justice had 
become a mockery. 

" The Accumulation had advanced so smoothly, so 
lightly, in all its steps to the supreme pow r er, and had 
at last so thoroughly quelled the uprisings of the pro 
letariat, that it forgot one thing : it forgot the 
despised and neglected suffrage. The ballot, because 
it had been so easy to annul its effect, had been left in 
the people s hands ; and when, at last, the leaders of 
the proletariat ceased to counsel strikes, or any form 
of resistance to the Accumulation that could be tor 
mented into the likeness of insurrection against the 
government, and began to urge them to attack it in 
the political way, the deluge that swept the Accumu 
lation out of existence came trickling and creeping 
over the land. It appeared first in the country, a 
spring from the ground ; then it gathered head in the 
villages ; then it swelled to a torrent in the cities. I 
cannot stay to trace its course ; but suddenly, one day, 
when the Accumulation s abuse of a certain power 
became too_gross. it was voted_out. of that power. 
You will perhaps be interested to know that it was 


with the telegraphs that the rebellion against the Ac 
cumulation began, and the government was forced by 
the overwhelming majority which the proletariat sent 
to our parliament, to assume a function which the 
Accumulation had impudently usurped. Then the 
transportation of smaller and more perishable wares" 
" Yes," a voice called, " express business. Go on." 
" Was legislated a function of the post office," the 
Altrurian went on. " Then all transportation was 
taken into the hands of the political government, 
which had always been accused of great corruption in 
its administration, but which showed itself immacu 
lately pure, compared with the Accumulation. The 
common ownership of mines necessarily followed, with 
an allotment of lands to anyone who wished to live 
by tilling the land ; but not a foot of the land was 
remitted to private hands for purposes of selfish 
pleasure or the exclusion of any other from the land 
scape. As all businesses had been gathered into the 
grasp of the Accumulation, and the manufacture of 
everything they used and the production of everything 
that they ate was in the control of the Accumulation, 
its transfer to the government was the work of a 

single clause in the statute. 


" The Accumulation, which had treated the first 
menaces of resistance with contempt, awoke to its 
peril too late. When it turned to wrest the suffrage 
from the proletariat, at the first election where it at 
tempted to make head against them, it was simply 
snowed under, as your picturesque phrase is. The 
Accumulation had no voters, except the few men at 
its head, and the creatures devoted to it by interest 
and ignorance. It seemed, at one moment, as if it 
would offer an armed resistance to the popular will, 
but, happily, that moment of madness passed. Our 
Evolution was accomplished without a^drop of blood 
shed, and the first great political brotherhood, the 
commonwealth of Altruria, was founded. 

" I wish that I had time to go into a study of some 
of the curious phases of the transformation from a 
civility in which the people lived upon each other to 
one in which they lived for each other. There is a 
famous passage in the inaugural message of our first 
Altrurian president, which compares the new civic 
consciousness with that of a disembodied spirit re 
leased to the life beyond this and freed from all the 
selfish cares and greeds of the flesh. But perhaps I 
shall give a sufficiently clear notion of the triumph of 


the change among us, when I say that within half a 
decade after the fall of the old plutocratic oligarchy 
one of the chief directors of the Accumulation pub 
licly expressed his gratitude to God that the Accumu 
lation had passed away forever. You will realize the 
importance of such an expression in recalling the 
declarations some of your slaveholders have made 
since the civil war, that they would not have slavery 
restored for any earthly consideration. 

" But now, after this preamble, which has been so 
much longer than I meant it to be, how shall I give 
you a sufficiently just conception of the existing Altru- 
ria, the actual state from which I come ? " 

" Yes," came the nasal of the old farmer, again, 
" that s what we are here fur. I wouldn t give a cop 
per to know all you went through beforehand. It s 
too dumn like what we have been through ourselves, 
as fur as heard from." 

A shout of laughter went up from most of the 
crowd, but the Altrurian did not seem to see any fun 
in it. 

" Well," he resumed, " I will tell you, as well as I 
can, what Altruria is like, but, in the first place, you 
will have to cast out of your minds all images of civil- 


ization with which your experience has filled them. 
For a time, the shell of the old Accumulation re 
mained for our social habitation, and we dwelt in the 
old competitive and monopolistic forms after the life 
had gone out of them. That is, we continued to live 
in populous cities, and we toiled to heap up riches for 
the moth to corrupt, and we slaved on in making 
utterly useless things, merely because we had the habit 
of making them to sell. For a while we made the old 
sham things, which pretended to be useful things and 
were worse than the confessedly useless things. I 
will give you an illustration from the trades, which you 
will all understand. The proletariat, in the competi 
tive and monopolistic time, used to make a kind of 
shoes for the proletariat, or the women of the prole 
tariat, which looked like fine shoes of the best quality. 
It took just as much work to make these shoes as to 
make the best fine shoes ; but they were shams through 
and through. They wore out in a week, and the peo 
ple called them, because they were bought fresh for 
every Sunday " 

" Sat d y night shoes," screamed the old farmer. 
" I know em. My gals buy em. Half dolla a pai , 
and not wo th the money." 


" Well," said the Altrurian, " they were a cheat 
and a lie, in every way, and under the new system it 
was not possible, when public attention was called to 
the fact, to continue the falsehood they embodied. As 
soon as the Saturday night shoe realized itself to the 
public conscience, an investigation began, and it was 
found that the principle of the Saturday night shoe 
underlay half our industries and made half the work 
that was done. Then an immense reform took place. 
We renounced, in the most solemn convocation of the 
whole economy, the principle of the Saturday night 
shoe, and those who had spent their lives in producing 
sham shoes " 

" Yes," said the professor, rising from his scat near 
us, and addressing the speaker, " I shall be very glad 
to know what became of the worthy and industrious 
operatives who were thrown out of employment by 
this explosion of economic virtue." 

" Why," the Altrurian replied, " they were set to 
work making honest shoes; and as it took no more 
time to make a pair of honest shoes which lasted a 
year, than it took to make a pair of dishonest shoes 
that lasted a week, the amount of labor in shocmak- 
ing was at once enormously reduced." 


" Yes," said the professor, " I understand that. 
What became of the shoemakers ? " 

" They joined the vast army of other laborers who 
had been employed, directly or indirectly, in the fab 
rication of fradulent wares. These shoemakers 
lasters, buttonholers, binders, and so on no longer 
wore themselves out over their machines. One hour 
sufficed where twelve hours were needed before, and 
the operatives were released to the happy labor of the 
fields, where no one with us toils killingly, from dawn 
ill dusk, but does only as much \vork as is needed to 
*eep the body in health. We had a continent to 
refine and beautify ; we had climates to change, and 
seasons to modify, a whole system of meteorology to 
readjust, and the public works gave employment to 
the multitudes emancipated from the soul-destroying 
service of shams. I can scarcely give you a notion of 
the vastness of the improvements undertaken and car 
ried through, or still in process of accomplishment. 
But a single one will, perhaps, afford a sufficient illus 
tration. Our southeast coast, from its vicinity to the 
pole, had always suffered from a winter of antarctic 
rigor; but our first president conceived the plan of 
cutting off a peninsula, which kept the equatorial 


current from making in to our shores ; and the work 
was begun in his term, though the entire strip, twenty 
miles in width and ninety-three in length, was not 
severed before the end of the first Altrurian decade. 
Since that time the whole region of our southeastern 
coast has enjoyed the climate of your Mediterrean 

" It was not only the makers of fradulent things 
who were released to these useful and wholesome 
labors, but those who had spent themselves in con 
triving ugly and stupid and foolish things were set; 
free to the public employments. The multitude ofi 
these monstrosities and iniquities was as great as that 
of the shams " 

Here I lost some words, for the professor leaned 
over and whispered to me: " He has got that out of 
William Morris. Depend upon it, the man is a hum 
bug. He is not an Altrurian at all." 

I confess that my heart misgave me ; but I signalled 
the professor to be silent, and again gave the Altrurian 
if he was an Altrurian my whole attention. 


"AND so," the Altrurian continued, " when the 
labor of the community was emancipated from the 
bondage of the false to the free service of the true, it 
was also, by an inevitable implication, dedicated to 
beauty and rescued- from the old slavery to the ugly, 
the stupid and the trivial. The thing that was honest 
and useful became, by the operation of a natural law, 
a beautiful thing. Once we had not time enough to 
make things beautiful, we were so overworked in 
making false and hideous things to sell ; but now we 
had all the time there was, and a glad emulation arose 
among the trades and occupations to the end that 
everything done should be done finely as well as done 
honestly. The artist, the man of genius. who_\vorkcd 


from the love of his work became the__QOrrnal man, 

and in the measure of his ability and of his calling 
each wrought in. the spirit -oJLtlie -artist ""We got back 
the pleasure of-doiag-a-thing beautifully, which was 
God s primal blessing upon all his working children, 
but which we had lost in the horrible days of our 
need and greed. There is not a working man within 
the sound of my voice, but has known this divine 
delight, and would gladly know it always if he only 
had the time. Well, now we had the time, the Evolu 
tion had given us the time, and in all Altruria there 
was not a furrow driven or a swath mown, not a 
hammer struck on house or on ship, not a stitch sewn 
or a stone laid, not a line written or a sheet printed, 
not a temple raised or an engine built, but it was 
done with an eye to beauty as well as to use. 

" As soon as we were freed from the necessity of 
preying upon one another, we found that there was no 
hurry. The good work would wait to be well done ; 
and one of the earliest effects of the Evolution was 
the disuse of the swift trains which had traversed the 
continent, night and day, that one man might over 
reach another, or make haste to undersell his rival, or 
seize some advantage of him, or plot some profit to 


his loss. Nine-tenths of the railroads, which in the 
old times had ruinously competed, and then in the 
hands of the Accumulation had been united to impov 
erish and oppress the people, fell into disuse. The 
commonwealth operated the few lines that were 
necessary for the collection of materials and the dis 
tribution of manufactures, and for pleasure travel 
and the affairs of state : but the roads that had been 
built to invest capital, or parallel other roads, or make 
work, as it was called, or to develop resources, or 
boom localities, were suffered to fall into ruin ; the 
rails were stripped from the landscape, which they 
had bound as with shackles, and the road-beds became 
highways for the use of kindly neighborhoods, or 
nature recovered them wholly and hid the memory of 
their former abuse in grass and flowers and wild vines. 
The ugly towns that they had forced into being, as 
Frankenstein was fashioned, from the materials of the 
charnel, and that had no life in or from the good of 
the community, soon tumbled into decay. The ad 
ministration used parts of them in the construction of 
the villages in which the Altrurians now mostly live ; 
but generally these towns were built of materials so 
fraudulent, in form so vile, that it was judged best to 


burn them. In this way their sites were at once 
purified and obliterated. 

" \Vc had, of course, a great many large cities 
under the old egoistic conditions, which increased 
and fattened upon the country, and fed their cancer 
ous life with fresh infusions of its blood. We had 
several cities of half a million, and one of more than a 
million ; we had a score of them with a population of 
a hundred thousand or more. We were very proud 
of them, and vaunted them as a proof of our un 
paralleled prosperity, though really they never, were 
anything but congeries of millionaires and the 
wretched creatures who served them and supplied 
them. Of course, there was everywhere the appear 
ance of enterprise and activity, but it meant final loss 
for the great mass of the business men, large and 
small, and final gain for the millionaires. These, and 
their parasites dwelt together, the rich starving the 
poor and the poor plundering and mis-governing the 
rich ; and it was the intolerable suffering in the cities 
that chiefly hastened the fall of the old Accumulation, 
and the rise of the Commonwealth. 

"Almost from the moment oi the Evolution the 
competitive and monopolistic centers of population 


began to decline. In the clear light of the new order it 
was seen that they were not fit dwelling-places for men, 
either in the complicated and luxurious palaces where 
the rich fenced themselves from their kind, or in the 
vast tenements, towering height upon height, ten and 
twelve stories up, where the swarming poor festered 
in vice and sickness and famine. If I were to tell 
you of the fashion of those cities of our egoistic 
epoch, how the construction was one error from the 
first, and every correction of an error bred a new 
defect, I should make you laugh, I should make you 
weep. We let them fall to ruin as quickly as they 
would, and their sites are still so pestilential, after the 
lapse of centuries, that travellers are publicly guarded 
against them. Ravening beasts and poisonous reptiles 
lurk in those abodes of the riches and the poverty 
that are no longer known to our life. A part of one 
of the less malarial of the old cities, however, is main 
tained by the commonwealth in the form of its 
prosperity, and is studied by antiquarians for the 
instruction, and by moralists for the admonition it 
affords. A section of a street is exposed, and you see 
the foundations of the houses; you see the filthy drains 
that belched into the common sewers, trapped and re- 


trapped to keep the poison gases down ; you see the 
sewers that rolled their loathsome tides under the 
streets, amidst a tangle of gas pipes, steam pipes, 
water pipes, telegraph wires, electric lighting wires, 
electric motor wires and grip-cables ; all without a plan, 
but make-shifts, expedients, devices, to repair and 
evade the fundamental mistake of having any such 
cities at all. 

" There are now no cities in Altruria, in your mean 
ing, but there arc capitals, one for each of the Regions 
of our country, and one for the whole commonwealth. 
These capitals are for the transaction of public affairs, 
in which every citizen of Altruria is schooled, and 
they are the residences of the administrative officials, 
who are alternated every year, from the highest to the 
lowest. A public employment with us is of no 
greater honor or profit than any other, for with our 
absolute economic equality, there can be no ambition, 
and there is no opportunity for one citizen to out 
shine another. But as the capitals are the centers of 
all the arts, which we consider the chief of our public 
affairs, they are oftencst frequented by poets, actors, 
painters, sculptors, musicians and architects. We 
regard all artists, who are in a sort creators, as the 


human type which is likest the divine, and we try to 
conform our whole industrial life to the artistic tem 
perament. Even in the labors of the field and shop, 
which are obligatory upon all, we study the inspira 
tions of this temperament, and in the voluntary 
pursuits we allow it full control. Each, in these, 
follows his fancy as to what he shall do, and when he 
shall do it, or whether he shall do anything at all. In 
the capitals are the universities, theaters, galleries, mu 
seums, cathedrals, laboratories and conservatories, and 
the appliances of every art and science, as well as the 
administration buildings ; and beauty as well as use is 
studied in every edifice. Our capitals are as clean 
and quiet and healthful as the country, and these 
advantages are secured simply by the elimination of 
the horse, an animal which we should be as much sur 
prised to find in the streets of a town as the plesio- 
saurus or the pterodactyl. All transportation in the 
capitals, whether for pleasure or business, is by 
electricity, and swift electrical expresses connect the 
capital of each region with the villages which radiate 
from it to the cardinal points. These expresses run at 
the rate of a hundred and fifty miles an hour, and 
they enable the artist, the scientist, the literary man, of 


the remotest hamlet, to visit the capital (when he is 
not actually resident there in some public use) every 
day, after the hours of the obligatory industries ; or if 
he likes, he may remain there a whole week or fort 
night, giving six hours a day instead of three to the 
obligatories, until the time is made up. In case of 
very evident merit, or for the purpose of allowing him 
to complete some work requiring continuous applica 
tion, a vote of the local agents may release him from 
the obligatories indefinitely. Generally, however, our 
artists prefer not to ask this, but avail themselves of 
the stated means we have of allowing them to work at 
the obligatories, and get the needed exercise and 
variety of occupation, in the immediate vicinity of the 

" We do not- think it well to connect the hamlets on 
the different lines of radiation from the. capital, 
except by the good country roads which traverse each 
region in every direction. The villages are mainly 
inhabited by those who prefer a rural life ; they are 
farming villages ; but in Altruria it can hardly be said 
that one man is more a farmer than another. We do 
not like to distinguish men by their callings ; we do 
not speak of the poet This or the shoemaker That, for 


the poet may very likely be a shoemaker in the 
obligatories, and the shoemaker a poet in the volun 
taries. If it can be said that one occupation is 
honored above another with us, it is that which we 
all share, and that is the cultivation of the earth. We 
believe that this, when not followed slavishly, or for 
gain, brings man into the closest relations to the deity, 
through a grateful sense of the divine bounty, and 
that it not only awakens a natural piety in him, but 
that it endears to the worker that piece of soil which 
he tills, and so strengthens his love of home. The 
home is the very heart of the Altrurian system, and. 
we do not think it well that people should be away 
from their homes very long or very often. In the com 
petitive and monopolistic times men spent half their 
days in racing back and forth across our continent ; 
families were scattered by the chase for fortune, and 
there was a perpetual paying and repaying of visits. 
One-half the income of those railroads which we let 
fall into disuse came from the ceaseless unrest. Now 
a man is born and lives and dies among his own kin 
dred, and the sweet sense of neighborhood, of brother 
hood, which blessed the golden age of the first 
Christian republic is ours again. Every year the 


people of eacli Reg-ion meet one another on Evolution 
day, in the Regionic capital ; once in four years they 
all visit the national capital. There is no danger of 
the decay of patriotism among us ; our country is our 
mother, and we love her as it is impossible to love the 
stepmother that a competitive or monopolistic nation 
must be to its citizens. 

" I can only touch upon this feature and that of our 
system, as I chance to think of it. If any of you are 
curious about others, I shall be glad to answer 
questions as well as I can. _ We have, of course," the 
Altrurian proceeded, after little indefinite pause, to let 
any speak who liked, " no money in your sense. 
As the whole people control affairs, no man works for 
another, aud no man pays another. Every one does 
his share of labor, and receives his share of food, 
clothing and shelter, which is neither more nor less 
than another s. If you can imagine the justice and 
impartiality of a well-ordered family, you can conceive 
of the social and economic life of Altruria. We are, 
properly speaking, a family rather than a nation 
like yours. 

" Of course, we are somewhat favored by our 

insular, or continental position ; but I do not know 


that we arc more so than you are. Certainly, how 
ever, we are self-sufficing in a degree unknown to 
most European countries ; and we have within our 
borders the materials of every comfort and the 
resources of every need. We have no commerce with 
the egoistic world, as we call that outside, and I 
believe that I am the first Altrurian to visit foreign 
countries avowedly in my national character, though 
we have always had emissaries living abroad incog 
nito. I hope that I may say without offense that 
they find it a sorrowful exile, and that the reports of 
the egoistic world, with its wars, its bankruptcies, its 
civic commotions and its social unhappiness, do not 
make us discontented with our own condition. 
Before the Evolution we had completed the round of 
your inventions and discoveries, impelled by the force 
that drives you on ; and we have since disused most 
of them as idle and unfit. But we profit, now and 
then, by the advances you make in science, for we 
are passionately devoted to the study of the natural 
laws, open or occult, under which all men have their 
being. Occasionally an emissary returns with a sum 
of money, and explains to the students of the national 
university the processes by which it is lost and won ; 


and at a certain time there was a movement for its 
introduction among us, not for its use as you know 
it, but for a species of counters in games of chance. 
It was considered, however, to contain an element of 
danger, and the scheme was discouraged. 

" Nothing amuses and puzzles our people more than 
the accounts our emissaries give of the changes of 
fashion in the outside world, and of the ruin of soul 
and body which the love of dress often works. Our 
own dress, for men and for women, is studied in one 
ideal of use and beauty, from the antique ; caprice and 
vagary in it would be thought an effect of vulgar van 
ity. Nothing is worn that is not simple and honest 
in texture ; we do not know whether a thing is cheap 
or dear, except as it is easy or hard to come by, and 
that which is hard to come by is forbidden as waste 
ful and foolish. The community builds the dwellings 
of the community, and these, too, are of a classic sim 
plicity, though always beautiful and fit in form ; the 
splendors of the arts are lavished upon the public 
edifices, which we all enjoy in common. 

" Isn t this the greatest rehash of Utopia, New 
Atlantis, and City of the Sun, that you ever im 
agined ? " the professor whispered across me to the 


banker. " The man is a fraud, and a very bungling 
fraud at that." 

" Well, you must expose him, when he gets 
through," the banker whispered back. 

But the professor could not wait. He got upon his 
feet, and called out ; " May I ask the gentleman from 
Altruria a question ? " 

" Certainly," the Altrurian blandly assented. 

14 Make it short ! " Reuben Camp s voice broke in, 
impatiently. " We didn t come here to listen to your 

The professor contemptously ignored him. " I 
suppose you occasionally receive emissaries from, as 
well as send them to the world outside? " 

" Yes, now and then castaways land on our coasts, 
and ships out of their reckonings put in at our ports, 
for water or provision." 

"And how are they pleased with your system?" 

" Why, I cannot better answer than by saying that 
they mostly refuse to leave us." 

" Ah, just as Bacon reports ! " cried the professor. 

"You mean in the New Atlantis?" returned the 
Altrurian. " Yes ; it is astonishing how well Bacon 
in that book, and Sir Thomas More in his Utopia, 


have divined certain phases of our civilization and 

" I think he rather has you, professor," the banker 
whispered, with a laugh. 

" But all those inspired visionaries," the Altrurian 
continued, while the professor sat grimly silent, watch 
ing for another chance, " who have borne testimony 
of us in their dreams, conceived of states perfect with 
out the discipline of a previous competitive condition. 
What I thought, however, might specially interest you 
Americans in Altruria is the fact that our economy 
was evolved from one so like that in which you actu 
ally have your being. I had even hoped you might 
feel that, in all these points of resemblance, American 
prophesies another Altruria. I know that to some of 
you all that I have told of my country will seem a 
baseless fabric, with no more foundation, in fact, than 
More s fairy tale of another land where men dealt 
kindly and justly by one another, and dwelt, a whole 
nation, in the unity and equality of a family. But 
w r hy should not a part of that fable have come true in 
our polity, as another part of it has come true in 
yours ? When Sir Thomas More wrote that book, he 
noted with abhorence the monstrous injustice of the 


fact that men were hanged for small thefts in Eng 
land ; and in the preliminary conversation between its 
characters he denounced the killing of men for any 
sort of thefts. Xow you no longer put men to death 
for theft ; you look back upon that cruel code of your 
mother England with an abhorrence as gTeat as his 
own. We, for our part, who have realized the Uto 
pian dream of brotherly equality, look back with the 
same abhorrence upon a state where some were rich and 
some poor, some taught and some untaught, some high 
and some low, and the hardest toil often failed to 
supply a sufficiency of the food which luxury wasted 
in its riots. That state seems as atrocious to us as 
the state which hanged a man for stealing a loaf of 
bread seems to you. 

" But we do not regret the experience of competition 
and monopoly. They taught us some things in the 
peration of the industries. The labor-saving inven 
tions which the Accumulation perverted to money- 
making, we have restored to the use intended by their 
inventors and the Creator of their inventors. After 
serving the advantage of socializing the industries 
which the Accumulation effected for its own purposes, 
we continued the work in large mills and shops, in the 


interest of the workers, whom we wished to guard 
against the evil effects of solitude. But our mills and 
shops are beautiful as well as useful. They look like 
temples, and they are temples, dedicated to that sym 
pathy between. the divine and human which expresses 
itself in honest and exquisite workmanship. They rise 
amid leafy boscages beside the streams, which form 
their only power : for we have disused steam altogether, 
with all the offenses to the eye and ear which its use 
brought into the world. Our life is so simple and our 
needs are so few that the handwork of the primitive 
toilers could easily supply our wants ; but machinery 
works so much more thoroughly and beautifully, that 
we have in great measure retained it. Only, the 
machines that were once the workman s enemies and 
masters are now their friends and servants ; and if any 
man chooses to work alone with his own hands, the 
state will buy what he makes at the same price tha* 
it sells the wares made collectively. This secures 
every right of individuality. 

" The farm work, as well as the mill work and the 
shop work, is done by companies of workers ; and 
there is nothing of that loneliness in our woods and 
fields which, I understand, is the cause of so much in- 


sanity among you. It is not good for man to be 
alone, was the first thought of his Creator when lie 
considered him, and we act upon this truth in every 
thing. The privacy of the family is sacredly guarded 
in essentials, but the social instinct is so highly devel 
oped with us that we like to eat together in large 
refectories, and we meet constantly to argue and 
dispute on questions of {esthetics and metaphysics. 
We do not, perhaps, read so many books as you do, 
for most of our reading, when not for special research, 
but for culture and entertainment, is done by public 
readers, to large groups of listeners. We have no 
social meetings which arc not free to all ; and we 
encourage joking and the friendly give and take of 
witty encounters." 

" A little hint from Sparta," suggested the professor. 

The banker leaned over to whisper to me, "From 
what I have seen of your friend when offered a piece 
of American humor, I should fancy the Altrurian arti 
cle was altogether different. Upon the whole I would 
rather not be present at one of their witty encounters, 
if I were obliged to stay it out." 

The Altrurian had paused to drink a glass of water, 
and now he went on. "But we try, in everything 


that does not inconvenience or injure others, to let 
everyone live the life he likes best. If a man prefers 
to dwell apart and have his meals in private for him 
self alone, or for his family, it is freely permitted ; 
only, he must not expect to be served as in public, 
where service is one of the voluntaries ; private service 
is not permitted ; those wishing to live alone must wait 
upon themselves, cook their own food and care for 
their own tables. Very few, however, wish to with 
draw from the public life, for most of the discussions 
and debates take place at our midday meal, which falls 
at the end of the obligatory labors, and is prolonged 
indefinitely, or as long as people like to chat and joke, 
or listen to the reading of some pleasant book. 

" In Altruria there is no hurry, for no one wishes to 
outstrip another, or in any wise surpass him. We are 
all assured of enough, and arc forbidden any and every 
sort of superfluity. If anyone, after the obligatories, 
wishes to be entirely idle, he may be so, but I cannot 
now think of a single person without some voluntary 
occupation ; doubtless there are such persons, but I do 
not know them. It used to be said, in the old times, 
that it was human nature to shirk, and malinger and 
loaf, but we have found that it is no such thing. We 


have found that it is human nature to work cheerfully, 
willingly, eagerly, at the tasks which all share for the 
supply of the common necessities. In like manner we 
have found out that it is not human nature to hoard 
and grudge, but that when the fear, and even the im 
agination, of want is taken away, it is human nature 
to give and to help generously. We used to say, * A 
man will lie, or a man will cheat in his own interest ; 
that is human nature, but that is no longer human 
nature with us, perhaps because no man has any 
interest to serve ; he has only the interests of others 
to serve, while others serve his. It is in nowise pos 
sible for the individual to separate his good from the 
common good ; he is prosperous and happy only as all 
the rest are so ; and therefore it is not human nature 
with us for anyone to lie in wait to betray another 
or seize an advantage. That would be ungentlemanly, 
and in Altruria every man is a gentleman, and every 
woman a lady. If you will excuse me here, for being 
so frank, I would like to say something by way of 
illustration, which may be offensive if you take it 

He looked at our little group, as if he were address 
ing himself more especially to us, and the banker 


called out jolhly : " Go on ! I guess we can stand it," 
and " Go ahead ! " came from all sides, from all kinds 
of listeners. 

" It is merely this : that as we look back at the old 
competitive conditions we do not sec how any man 
could be a gentleman in them, since a gentleman must 
think first of others, and these conditions compelled 
every man to think first of himself." 

There was a silence broken by some conscious and 
hardy laughter, while we each swallowed this pill as 
we could. 

* 4 What are competitive conditions ? " Mrs. Makely 
demanded of me. 

" Well, ours are competitive conditions," I said. 

" Very well, then," she returned, " I don t think 
Mr. Homos is much of a gentleman to say such a 
thing to an American audience. Or, wait a moment ! 
Ask him if the same rule applies to women ! " 

I rose, strengthened by the resentment I felt, and 
said, " Do I understand that in your former competi 
tive conditions it was also impossible for a woman to 
be a lady ? " 

The professor gave me an applausive nod as I sat 
down. "I envy you the chance of that little dig," 
he whispered. 


The Altrurian was thoughtful a moment, and then 
he answered : " No, I should not say it was. From 
what we know historically of those conditions in our 
country, it appears that the great mass of women were 
not directly affected by them. They constituted an 
altruristic dominion of the egoistic empire and 
except as they were tainted by social or worldly am 
bitions, it was possible for every woman to be a lady, 
even in competitive conditions. Her instincts were 
unselfish, and her first thoughts were nearly always 
of others." 

Mrs. Makely jumped to her feet, and clapped vio 
lently with her fan on the palm of her left hand. 
" Three cheers for Mr. Homos ! " she shrieked, and 
all the women took up the cry, supported by all the 
natives and the construction gang. I fancied these 
fellows gave their support largely in a spirit of bur 
lesque ; but they gave it robustly, and from that time 
on, Mrs. Makely led the applause, and they roared in 
after her. 

It is impossible to follow closely the course of the 
Altrurian s account of his country, which grew more 
and more incredible as he went on, and implied every 
insulting criticism of ours. Some one asked him 


about war in Altruria, and he said, " The very name 
of our country implies the absence of war. At the 
time of the Evolution our country bore to the rest of 
our continent the same relative proportion that your 
country bears to your continent. The egoistic nations 
to the north and the south of us entered into an offen 
sive and defensive alliance to put down the new 
altruistic commonwealth, and declared war against us. 
Their forces were met at the frontier by our entire 
population in arms, and full of the martial spirit bred of 
the constant hostilities of the competitive and monop- 
listic epoch just ended. Negotiations began in the 
face of the imposing demonstration we made, and we 
were never afterward molested by our neighbors, who 
finally yielded to the spectacle of our civilization and 
united their political and social fate with ours. At 
present, our whole continent is Altrurian. For a long 
time we kept up a system of coast defenses, but it is 
also a long time since we abandoned these ; for it is a 
maxim with us that where every citizen s life is a 
pledge of the public safety, that country can never be 
in danger of foreign enemies. 

" In this, as in all other things, we believe ourselves 
the true followers of Christ, whose doctrine we seek 


to make our life, as He made it His. We have sev 
eral forms of ritual, but no form of creed, and our 
religious differences may be said to be aesthetic and 
temperamental rather than theological and essential. 
We have no denominations, for we fear in this as in 
other matters to give names to things lest we should 
cling to the names instead of the things. We love 
the realities, and for this reason we look at the life of 
a man rather than his profession for proof that he is 
a religious man. 

"I have been several times asked, -during my so 
journ among you, what are the sources of compassion, 
of sympathy, of humanity, of charity with us, if we 
have not only no want, or fear of want, but not even 
any economic inequality. I suppose this is because 
you are so constantly struck by the misery arising 
from economic inequality, and want, or the fear of 
want, among yourselves, that you instinctively look in 
that direction. But have you ever seen sweeter com 
passion, tenderer sympathy, warmer humanity, hcav- 
enlier charity, than that shown in the family, where 
all are economically equal, and no one can want while 
any other has to give ? Altruria, I say again, is a 
family, and as we are mortal, we are still subject to 


those nobler sorrows which God has appointed to 
men, and which arc so different from the squalid 
accidents that they have made for themselves. Sick 
ness and death call out the most angelic ministeries of 
love ; and those who wish to give themselves to others 
may do so without hindrance from those cares, and 
even those duties, resting upon men where each must 
look out first for himself and for his own. Oh, be 
lieve me, believe me, you can know nothing of the 
divine rapture of self-sacrifice while you must dread 
the sacrifice of another in it ! You are not free, as 
we are, to do everything for others, for it is your duty 
to do rather for those of your own household ! 

" There is something," he continued, " which I 
hardly know how to speak of," and here we all began 
to prick our ears. I prepared myself as well as I 
could for another affront, though I shuddered when 
the banker hardily called out : " Don t hesitate to say 
anything you wish, Mr. Homos. I, for one, should 
like to hear you express yourself fully." 

It was always the unexpected, certainly, that hap 
pened from the Altrurian. " It is merely this," he 
said. " Having come to live rightly upon earth, as 
we believe, or having at least ceased to deny God in 


our statutes and customs, the fear of death, as it once 
weighed upon us, has been lifted from our souls. 
The mystery of it has so far been taken away that we 
perceive it as something just and natural. Now that 
all unkindncss has been banished from among us, we 
can conceive of no such cruelty as death once seemed. 
If we do not know yet the full meaning of death, we 
know that the Creator of it and of us meant mercy 
and blessing by it. "When one dies, we grieve, but 
not as those without hope. We do not say that the 
dead have gone to a better place, and then selfishly 
bewail them ; for we have the kingdom of heaven up 
on earth, already, and we know that wherever they go 
they will be homesick for Altruria, and when we think 
of the years that may pass before we meet them again, 
our hearts ache, as they must. But the presence of the 
risen Christ in our daily lives is our assurance that no 
one ceases to be, and that we shall sec our dead again. 
I cannot explain this to you ; I can only affirm it." 

The Altrurian spoke very solemnly, and a reverent 
hush fell upon the assembly. It was broken by the 
voice of a woman wailing out : " Oh, do you suppose, 
if we lived so, we should feel so, too ? That I should 
know my little girl was living ? " 


" Why not ? " asked the Altrurian. 

To my vast astonishment, the manufacturer, who 
sat the farthest from me in the same line with Mrs. 
Makcly, the professor and the banker, rose and asked 
tremulously : " And have have you had any direct 
communication with the other world ? Has any dis 
embodied spirit returned to testify of the life beyond 
the grave ? " 

The professor nodded significantly across Mrs. 
Makely to me, and then frowned and shook his head. 
I asked her if she knew what he meant. " Why, 
didn t you know that spiritualism was that poor man s 
foible ? He lost his son in a railroad accident, and 
ever since" 

She stopped and gave her attention to the Altru 
rian, who was replying to the manufacturer s ques 

" We do not need any such testimony. Our life 
here makes us sure of the life there. At any rate, no 
.extcrnation of the supernatural, no objective miracle, 
has been wrought in our behalf. We have had faitli 
to do what we prayed for, and the prescience of 
which I speak has been added unto us." 

The manufacturer asked, as the bereaved mother 
20 - 


had asked : " And if I lived so, should I feel so ? " 
Again the Altrurian answered : " Why not ? " 
The poor woman quavered : " Oh, do believe it ! 
I just know it must be true ! " 

The manufacturer shook his head sorrowfully, and 
sat down, and remained there, looking at the ground. 
" I am aware," the Altrurian went on, " that what 
I have said as to our realizing the kingdom of heaven 
on the earth must seem boastful and arrogant. That 
is what you pray for every day, but you do not believe 
it possible for God s will to be done on earth as it is 
done in heaven ; that is, you do not if you are like 
the competitive and monopolistic people we once 
were. We once regarded that petition as a formula 
vaguely pleasing to the Deity, but we no more 
expected His kingdom to come than we expected 
Him to give us each day our daily bread ; we knew 
that if we wanted something to eat we should have 
to hustle for it, and get there first ; I use the slang of 
that far-off time, which, I confess, had a vulgar 

" But -now everything is changed, and the change 
has taken place chiefly from one cause, namely, the 
disuse of money. At first, it was thought that some 


sort of circulating medium must be used, that life 
could not be transacted without it. But life began 
to go on perfectly well, when each dwelt in the place 
assigned him, which was no better and no worse than 
any other ; and when, after he had given his three 
hours a day to the obligatory labors, he had a right 
to his share of food, light, heat, and raiment ; the 
voluntary labors, to which he gave much time or 
little, brought him no increase of those necessaries, 
but only credit and affection. We had always heard 
it said that the love of money was the root of all evil, 
but we had taken this for a saying, merely ; now we 
realized it as an active, vital truth. As soon as 
money w r as abolished, the power to purchase was 
gone, and even if there had been any means of buying 
beyond the daily needs, with overwork, the commu 
nity had no power to sell to the individual. No man 
owned anything, but every man had the right to any 
thing that he could use ; when he could not use it, 
his right lapsed. 

"With the expropriation of the individual, the 
whole vast catalogue of crimes against property shrank 
to nothing. The thief could only steal from the 
community ; but if lie stole, what was he to do with 


his booty ? It was still possible for a depredator to 
destroy, but few men s hate is so comprehensive as to 
include all other men, and when the individual could 
no longer hurt some other individual in his property, 
destruction ceased. 

"All the many murders done from love of money, 
or of what money could buy, were at an end. Where 
there was no want, men no longer bartered their souls, 
or women their bodies, for the means to keep them 
selves alive. The vices vanished with the crimes, and 
the diseases almost as largely disappeared. People 
were no longer sickene<f by sloth and surfeit, or de 
formed and depleted by overwork and famine. They 
were wholesomely housed in healthful places, and 
they were clad fitly for their labor and fitly for their 
leisure ; the caprices of vanity were not suffered to 
attaint the beauty of the national dress. 

" With the stress of superfluous social and business 
duties, and the perpetual fear of want which all 
classes felt, more or less ; with the tumult of the 
cities and the solitude of the country, insanity had 
increased among us till the whole land was dotted 
with asylums, and the mad were numbered by 
hundreds of thousands. In every region they were 


an army, an awful army of anguish and dispair. Now 
they have decreased to a number so small, and are of 
a type so mild, that we can hardly count insanity 
among our causes of unhappincss. 

" We have totally eliminated chance from our eco 
nomic life. There is still a chance that a man will he 
tall or short, in Altruria, that he will he strong or 
weak, well or ill, gay or grave, happy or unhappy in 
love, but none that he will be rich or poor, busy or 
idle, live splendidly or meanly. These stupid and vul 
gar accidents of human contrivance cannot befall us ; 
but I shall not be able to tell you just how or why, 
or to detail the process of eliminating chance. I may 
say, however, that it began with the nationalization 
of telegraphs, expresses, railroads, mines and all large 
industries operated by stock companies. This at 
once struck a fatal blow at the speculation in values, 
real and unreal, and at the stock exchange, or bourse ; 
we had our own name for that gambler s paradise, or 
gambler s hell, whose baleful influence penetrated 
every branch of business. 

" There were still business fluctuations, as long as 
we had business, but they were on a smaller and 
smaller scale, and with the final lapse of business they 


necessarily vanished; all economic chance vanished. 
The founders of the common-wealth understood per 
fectly that business was the sterile activity of the 
function interposed between the demand and the 
supply ; that it was nothing structural ; and they in 
tended its extinction, and expected it from the moment 
that money was abolished." 

" This is all pretty tiresome," said the professor, to 
our immediate party. " I don t see why we oblige 
ourselves to listen to that fellow s stuff. As if a civ 
ilized state could exist for a day without money or 

He went on to give his opinion of the Altrurian s 
pretended description, in a tone so audible that it 
attracted the notice of the nearest group of railroad 
hands, who were listening closely to Homos, and one 
of them sang out to the professor : " Can t you wait 
and let the first man finish ? " and another yelled : 
4i Put him out ! " and then they all laughed with *i 
humorous perception of the impossibility of literally 
executing the suggestion. 

By the time all was quiet again I heard the Altru- 
rian saying : " As to our social life, I cannot describe 
it in detail, but I can give you some notion of its 


spirit. We make our pleasures civic and public as 
far as possible, and the ideal is inclusive, and not ex 
clusive. There arc, of course, festivities which all 
cannot share, but our distribution into small commu 
nities favors the possibility of all doing so. Our daily 
.life, however, is so largely social that we seldom meet 
by special invitation or engagement. When we do, it 
is with the perfect understanding that the assemblage 
confers no social distinction, but is for a momentary 
convenience. In fact, these occasions are rather 
avoided, recalling as they do the vapid and tedious 
entertainments of the competitive epoch, the recep 
tions and balls and dinners of a semi-barbaric people 
striving for social prominence by shutting a certain 
number in and a certain number out, and overdressing, 
overfeeding and overdrinking. Anything premedi 
tated in the way of a pleasure we think stupid and 
mistaken ; we like to meet suddenly, or on the spur 
of the moment, out of doors, if possible, and arrange 
a picnic, or a dance, or a play ; and let people come 
and go without ceremony. No one is more host than 
guest ; all are hosts and guests. People consort much 
according to their tastes literary, musical, artistic, 
scientific, or mechanical but these tastes are made 


approaches, not barriers ; and we find out that we 
have many more tastes in common than was formerly 

" But, after all, our life is serious, and no one 
among us is quite happy, in the general esteem, un 
less he has dedicated himself, in some special way, to 
the general good. Our ideal is not rights, but duties." 

" Mazzini ! " whispered the professor. 

" The greatest distinction which anyone can enjoy 
with us is to have found out some new and signal way 
of serving the community ; and then it is not good 
form for him to seek recognition. The doing any 
fine thing is the purest pleasure it can give ; applause 
flatters, but it hurts, too, and our benefactors, as we 
call them, have learned to shun it. 
1 " We arc still far from thinking our civilization 
perfect ; but we are sure that our civic ideals are per 
fect. What we have already accomplished is to have 
given a whole continent perpetual peace ; to have 
founded an economy in which there is no uossibility 
of want ; to have killed out political and social am 
bition; to have disused money and eliminated chance; 
to have realized the brotherhood of the race, and to 
have outlived the fear of death." 


The Altrurian suddenly stopped with these words, 
and sat down. lie had spoken a long time, and with 
a fullness which my report gives little notion of ; but, 
though most of his cultivated listeners were weary, 
and a good many ladies had left their seats and gone 
back to the hotel, not one of the natives, or the work 
people of any sort, had stirred ; now they remained a 
moment motionless and silent, before they rose from 
all parts of the field, and shouted : " Go on ! Don t 
stop ! Tell us all about it!" 

I saw Reuben Camp climb the shoulders of a big 
fellow near where the Altrurian had stood ; he waved 
the crowd to silence with outspread arms. " lie isn t 
going to say anything more ; lie s tired. But if any 
man don t think he s got his dollar s worth, let him 
walk up to the door and the ticket-agent will refund 
him his money," 

The crowd laughed, and some one shouted : " Good 
for you, He ub ! " 

Camp continued : " But our friend here will shake 
the hand of any man, woman or child, that wants to 
speak to him ; and you needn t wipe it on tho grass, 
first, either. He s a man! And I want to say that 
he s going to spend the next week with us, at my 


mother s house, and we shall be glad to have you 

The crowd, the rustic and ruder part of it, cheered 
and cheered till the mountain echoes answered ; then 
a railroader called for three times three, with a tiger, 
and got it. The guests of the hotel broke away and 
went toward the house, over the long shadows of the 
meadow. The lower classes pressed forward, on 
Camp s invitation. 

" Well, did you ever hear a more disgusting rigma 
role ? " asked Mrs. Makely, as our little group halted 
indecisively about her. 

"With all those imaginary commonwealths to draw 
upon, from Plato, through More, Bacon, and Campa- 
nella, down to Bellamy and Morris, he has constructed 
the shakiest effigy ever made of old clothes stuffed 
with straw," said the professor. 

The manufacturer was silent. The banker said : 
" I don t know. lie grappled pretty boldly with your 
insinuations. That frank declaration that Altruria 
was all these pretty soap-bubble worlds solidified, was 
rather fine." 

" It was splendid ! " cried Mrs. Makely. The law 
yer and the minister came towards us from where they 


had been sitting together. She called out to them : 
" Why in the world didn t one of you gentlemen get 
up and propose a vote of thanks ? " 

" The difficulty with me is," continued the banker, 
" that he has rendered Altruria incredible. I have no 
doubt that lie is an Altrurian, but I doubt very much 
if he comes from anywhere in particular, and I find 
this quite a blow, for we had got Altruria nicely lo 
cated on the map, and were beginning to get accounts 
of it in the newspapers." 

" Yes, that is just exactly the way I feel about it," 
sighed Mrs. Makely. " But still, don t you think 
there ought to have been a vote of thanks, Mr. 

" Why, certainly. The fellow was immensely 
amusing, and you must have got a lot of money by 
him. It was an oversight not to make him a formal 
acknowledgment of some kind. If we offered him 
money, he would have to leave it all behind him here 
when he went home to Altruria." 

" Just as we do when we go to heaven ;" I suggested; 
the banker did not answer, and I instantly felt that in 
the presence of the minister my remark was out of 


" Well, then, don t you think," said Mrs. Makely, 
who had a leathery insensibility to everything but the 
purpose possessing her, " that we ought at least to go 
and say something to him personally ? " 

" Yes, I think we ought," said the banker, and we 
all walked up to where the Altrurian stood, still 
thickly surrounded by the lower classes, who were 
shaking hands with him, and getting in a word with 
him now and then. 

One of the construction gang said, carelessly : " No 
all-rail route to Altruria, I suppose ? " 

" No," answered Homos, " it s a far sea voyage." 

" Well, I shouldn t mind working my passage, if 
you think they d let me stay after I got there." 

** Ah, you mustn t go to Altruria ! You must let 
Altruria come to you," returned Homos, with that 
confounded smile of his that always won my heart. 

" Yes," shouted Reuben Camp, whose thin face 
was red with excitement, " that s the word ! Have 
Altruria right here, and right now ! " 

The old farmer, who had several times spoken, 
cackled out : " I didn t know, one while, when you 
was talk n about not havin no money, but what some 
on us had had Altrury here for quite a spell, already. 


I don t pass more n fifty dolla s through my hands, 
most years." 

A laugh went up, and then, at sight of Mrs. Makely 
heading our little party, the people round Homos 
civilly made way for us. She rushed upon him, and 
seized his hand in both of hers ; she dropped her fan, 
parasol, gloves, handkerchief and vinaigrette in the 
grass to do so. " Oh, Mr. Homos ! " she fluted, and 
the tears came into her eyes, " it was beautiful, 
beautiful, every word of it ! I sat in a perfect trance 
from beginning to end, and I felt that it was all as 
true as it was beautiful. People all around me were 
breathless with interest, and I don t know how 1 
can ever thank you enough." 

" Yes, indeed," the professor hastened to say, 
before the Altrurian could answer, and he beamed 
malignantly upon him through his spectacles while he 
spoke, " it was like some strange romance." 

" I don t know that I should go so far as that," 
said the banker, in his turn, " but it certainly seemed 
too good to be true." 

" Yes," the Altrurian responded simply, but a little 
sadly, " now that I am away from it all, and in 
conditions so different, I sometimes had to ask 


myself, as I went on, if my whole life had not 
hitherto been a dream, and Altruria were not some 
blessed vision of the night." 

" Then you know how to account for a feeling 
which I must acknowledge, too ? " the lawyer asked 
courteously. " But it was most interesting." 

" The kingdom of God upon earth," said the 
minister, " it ought not to be incredible ; but that, 
more than anything else you told us of, gave me 

"You, of all men?" returned the Altrurian, gently. 

" Yes," said the minister, with a certain dejection, 
" when I remember what I have seen of men, when I 
reflect what human nature is, how can I believe that 
the kingdom of God will ever come upon the earth ? " 

" But in heaven, where lie reigns, who is it docs 
His will ? The spirits of men ? " pursued the Altru 

" Yes, but conditioned as men are here " 

" But if they were conditioned as men are there ? " 

" Now, I can t let you two good people get into a 
theological dispute," Mrs. Makely pushed in. " Here 
is Mr. T \velvemough dying to shake hands with Mr. 
Homos and compliment his distinguished guest ! " 


" Ah, Mr. Homos knows what I must have thought 
of his talk without my telling him," I began, skill 
fully. " But I am sorry that I am to lose my 
distinguished guest so soon ! " 

Reuben Camp broke out : " That was my blunder, 
Mr. Twelvemough. Mr. Homos and I had talked it 
over, conditionally, and I was not to speak of it till 
he had told you ; but it slipped out in the excitement 
of the moment." 

" Oh, it s all right," I said, and I shook hands 
cordially with both of them. " It will be the greatest 
possible advantage for Mr. Homos to see certain 
phases of American life at close range, and he 
couldn t possibly see them under better auspices than 
yours, Camp." 

" Yes, I m going to drive him through the hill 
country, after haying, and then I m going to take him 
down and show him one of our big factory towns." 

I believe this was done, but finally the Altrurian 
went on to New York, where he was to pass the win 
ter. We parted friends ; I even offered him some in 
troductions ; but his acquaintance had become more 
and more difficult, and I was not sorry to part with 
him. That taste of his for low company was incur- 


able, and I was glad that I was not to be responsible any 
longer for whatever strange thing he might do next. 
I think he remained very popular with the classes he 
most affected ; a throng of natives, construction hands 
and table-girls saw him off on his train ; and he left 
large numbers of such admirers in our house and 
neighborhood, devout in the faith that there was such 
a commonwealth as Altruria, and that he was really 
an Altrurian. As for the more cultivated people who 
had met him, thcyc^etmncd-oiL^two minds upon both 
points. f[ OF THE 




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